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 Certain historic dealers and collectors have withdrawn, to be replaced by young buds; the market has globalised; Internet has changed the habits of both professionals and amateurs.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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Sotheby’s makes $752.3 million in one week

With an average of 85 % of lots sold, Sotheby’s reaped $752.3 million in one week through its sale of the David Bowie collection in London, and its sale of 20th and 21st century art in New York, and jewellery in Geneva. Sotheby’s has thus gone over its global estimate of $180 million. Sotheby’s president and CEO Tad Smith declared: “Sotheby’s has demonstrated that its consigning clients should be confident about the state of the markets, and its shareholders should be enthusiastic about...

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Impressionnist and Modern sale in Paris

The last Impressionist and Modern art sale of the year, at Sotheby’s in Paris, will be held on Wednesday 7 December. The auction house is offering a rediscovered work by James Ensor, Squelette arrêtant masques (1891), estimated at between €1 and 1.5 million. Conserved in the one collection, this oil-on-canvas is emerging on the market for the first time. Magritte will be a focus of the sale, with five lots: four studies of female heads and bodies on paper from the 1940s and 1950s, and a painting from his youth, VIe Nocturne, estimated at between €120,000 and 180,000. In addition, a unique 1927 rayogram and a 1938 composition by Man Ray, as well as a very rare set of 1936 works by Wifredo Lam will be on offer, coming from a prestigious European...

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Billionaire Steven Cohen pulls out of Sotheby’s

American billionaire investor and art collector Steven Cohen has sold off his stake in Sotheby’s, in other words one million shares, reports The Antiques Trade Gazette. Steven Cohen’s company, Point72 Asset Management, had invested heavily in Sotheby’s activity and was once the company’s fifth shareholder, with 3.2 million shares. He gradually reduced his stake this year, and in the last three months, has entirely got rid of it. Sotheby’s shares increased by over 40 % between February and October, following the announcement of cost-reduction plans. Last week, Sotheby’s third-quarter results revealed that cost reduction led to a 6 % decline in expenses over the period, and a 12 % drop over the half-year. Following the appointment of Linus Cheung as a board member, Sotheby’s and its major stakeholder, Chinese group Taikang Insurance, also agreed that Taikang would not increase its stake in Sotheby’s beyond 15 % in the next three...

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Sotheby’s denies involvement in Bouvier- Rybolovlev affair

A long-term conflict has opposed Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev and Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier, president of Natural Le Coultre, regarding the sale of a Leonardo da Vinci work, Salvator Mundi. In 2013, Sotheby’s oversaw a private sale of the painting to a company run by Yves Bouvier for $80 million, by a consortium of dealers comprising Warren Adelson, president of Adelson Galleries and New York art dealers Alexander Parish and Robert Simon. Bouvier then resold the painting to Rybolovlev for $127.5 million. The consortium is now threatening to sue Sotheby’s for the difference, the auction house declared in a filing in Manhattan federal court on Monday. Sotheby’s has stated that it had nothing to do with the private sale between Yves Bouvier and Rybolovlev, and that it moreover earned nothing from the transaction. Alexander Parish, who thought that he was dealing with a copy, bought the painting for under $10,000 at the sale of an estate in Louisiana, in the early...

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