The tribal art market at auction in 2016

Growing sharply since 2000, tribal art has not been spared of upsets in the last three years: a dilution of the historic Sotheby’s-Christie’s duopoly, consolidation of the intermediary market, mainly in favour of African pieces whose average value is dropping. The past inertias are shifting… If there’s one sure thing about this market – an extremely heterogeneous one as it is made up of classic African, Pacific, Pre-Colombian and North American arts –, it would be its growth. The turnover from auction sales, despite a little fluctuation, is following an upward trend, jumping up from around ten million euros in 2001 to flirt with 60 million euros in 2013, up to the excellent year in 2014 when it exceeded the symbolic bar of 100 million euros – an absolute record for the auction market. Meanwhile, the number of lots placed on sale has varied greatly, but its growth is just as indisputable. An average of around 3,100 objects has been presented every year from 2000 to 2005, compared to 5,800 in 2014, 7,050 in 2015, and over 8,300 in 2016. The evolution of the Artkhade price index makes the phenomenon all the clearer: between 2000 and 2016, the price level for classic African and Pacific objects has tripled. However, the last three years have sent out contradictory signals, seemingly sanctioning the market’s mutations. Certain historic dealers and collectors have withdrawn, to be replaced by young buds; the market has globalised; Internet has changed the habits of both professionals and amateurs. Since 2014, the rise in the number of lots presented at sales – following a first phase of growth between 2006 and 2009, nonetheless incomparable with the current one – has been accompanied by a significant drop in the turnover of the tribal-art auction market. Following the absolute record...

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London: the Islamic art market

The Islamic art market has been boosted in London by exceptional sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. But given the state of the current situation in the Islamic world, auction houses now need to obtain extra — and compulsory information — before placing a piece on sale. An auction house now has to have proof that the work left its country of origin legally; the new rule has been introduced in an attempt to fight illegal sales of pillaged works. Even if the world’s auction houses have reason to fear censorship, the Islamic art market is continuing to grow internationally, especially in London where a circle of keen collectors throngs. On 20 October 2016, Christie’s sold a page from the famous Indian manuscript, Hamzanama (1564). Estimated at between £200,000 and 300,000, the page finally went at £821,000. The illustration on the page shows Amir Hamza — uncle of the prophet Muhammad — clinging to the claws of a phoenix. The sale of the manuscript page was the high point of the Islamic Art Week from 14 to 25...

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Over €2 million for the Pierre-Yves Le Diberder collection

The sale of the Pierre-Yves Le Diberder collection, held on Friday 14 October at Druot by auction house Pierre Bergé & Associés, in association with Christie’s, raised €2,084,786. The sale reflected the collection’s eclecticism: for example, on the one hand, a painting by Ferdinand Joseph Guerldry from 1881, Une Régate à Joinville, le départ, yielding €114,240, and on the other hand, Man Ray, an acrylic and ink serigraphy on canvas by Andy Warhol raising...

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A new office for Christie’s

The renowned auction house, founded in 1766 in London, inaugurated its new flagship in Beijing on 15 October. After becoming the first house to make sales in China in 2013, Christie’s has set up in the Middle Kingdom for good. This inauguration ties in with its opening of a gallery in the centre of the Chinese capital. After an exhibition on Pablo Picasso, Christie’s wants to seduce Chinese collectors with an increasing hunger for art. “Our new Beijing space marks an important milestone during our 250-year mission to connect art and collectors,” declared Christie’s CEO Patricia Barbizet. The works shown at this exhibition will then go on sale in New York in...

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Sale of the Leslie Waddington collection

At Christie’s in London, on 4 October, 100 % of the Leslie Waddington collection was sold, and 80 % of lots went for over their high estimates. The sale reaped a total of £28,285,525. With these results, the sale pays fine homage to a pioneering contemporary-art collector and dealer. Bids came from 37 countries. Robert Motherwell’s Spanish Elegy was sold for the sum of £905,000, well above its high estimate of £300,000. The top lot of the evening was a work by Jean Dubuffet, Visiteur au chapeau bleu (1955), which went for £4,813,000. Of note is a world record set by the sale of Las Meninas by Michael Craig-Martin, pushed up to £149,000. The painting on paper, Lampe, by Francis Picabia, was sold for £3,637,000, thus doubling its high estimate. The sale also notched up fine scores for works by Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Milton Avery and Agnes...

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