Renoir treasures for sale and London’s new art district
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Renoir’s glasses, his marriage certificate, masses of correspondence including letters from Monet and Manet, photographs, an expenses ledger, his Légion d’honneur medals, and some sculptures made with his assistant Richard Guino: this vast trove of archive material is for sale online at Heritage Auctions, and will also be offered on September 19 in New York.
The auction house spent a year cataloguing the huge array of items, many minor but highly personal, and grouping them into 143 lots that vary in price from $750 to $450,000. The whole sale could make up to $3m, according to director Brian Roughton, who reports “intense museum interest”.
The whole archive should really have gone to a museum but, after a botched auction in 2007, it was sold off for just $135,000. Various lawsuits flew around, and it ended up in the hands of today’s seller, Rima Fine Art, an Arizona gallery.
Roughton says: “Everything is being offered free and clear of any controversy or dispute over copyright. We’re giving it a brand new start as a collection; instead of looking like an artist’s garage sale, we have found that it makes for a fully illustrative and informative biography of [Renoir’s] life.”
A portrait bust of Renoir’s son Coco from 1907-1908, estimated at $20,000-$30,000, had received an online bid of $17,500 at the time of going to press. The auction ends with the live session.
Renowned dealer Marian Goodman is the latest New Yorker to decide to set up shop in London. She has bagged a huge space at 20 Golden Square, just off Piccadilly Circus, formerly the warehouse of tailors Holland & Sherry. Goodman did not want to comment on when it would open but it is unlikely to be before next year.
Goodman is in good company; she joins Jane Hamlyn of the Frith Street Gallery and Sadie Coles to form a powerful triumvirate of female art dealers in what is looking like a new art district just east of Regent Street. Coles opens her new space at 62 Kingly Street on Thursday this week with a show by Ryan Sullivan.
One other London move: the sculpture dealer Daniel Katz is taking over Blain|Southern’s former space at 6 Hill Street – readers may remember the marvellous Lucian Freud exhibition of drawings that was held there in conjunction with Acquavella last year.
After the mysterious closure, or postponement, of SH Contemporary, the Shanghai art fair that was launched in 2007 but cancelled this year, the event seems to be making a comeback. Now encumbered with the hardly snappy name of BolognaFiere Shanghai International Contemporary Art Exhibition (mercifully shortened to BolognaFiere SH Contemporary), the fair will be held in September next year. Its new partner is the Centre of International Cultural Exchange, part of the Chinese Ministry of Culture, reflecting the government’s proclaimed interest in art as “soft power”. While details are sketchy, it seems that Bologna has emerged victorious from a brawl with the challenger it called “the phantom new Shanghai Global fair”, which had initially snaffled its slot in the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. More details are promised soon.
Artists’ Pension Trust (APT), the global organisation that functions like an art fund, has started a sell-off of its vast holdings of work by emerging and mid-career artists. Ten years after being founded, APT has decided the time is right to start selling some of its collection, and it will be interesting to see just how successful it will be. One example of a piece for sale is “Somnium Genero Spiro-3” (2008) by the Indian artist duo Thukral & Tagra which is priced at $40,000.
APT works like this. Emerging and mid-career artists pledge 20 works over 20 years to the trust, with the aim that these will provide a stream of revenue when resold. The fund is huge, now numbering 10,000 works by 2,000 artists from 75 countries. So far its backers – “art collectors, bankers and other industry leaders” – have invested some $25m in the venture, according to APT. Founder Moti Shniberg says the collection is now worth $100m and that, when all the artworks have been received, it will eventually be worth four times that.
The collection is available for sale on the site (www.aptglobal.org), and a “compliance committee” will decide what to sell, at what price and to whom – with, says Shniberg, “a clear preference for institutions”.
The artist gets 40 per cent of the sale price, and another 32 per cent will go into a risk diversification pool, which is split between all the members – meaning the better-selling artists will benefit the less popular ones. The remaining 28 per cent goes to APT for its fees, says Shniberg.
And finally, for the second time this year, Christie’s has raised the fees it charges buyers in its auctions. While the actual rates stay the same, the thresholds have been changed to give the firm more revenue, particularly at the lower level.
The rise is “a reflection of our current global expansion initiatives and associated increases in costs, including shipping, insurance, security, and marketing fees,” said Christie’s. Sotheby’s declined to say whether it would follow suit.
Georgina Adam is editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper