Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015: The Definitive Sales Report

Business is booming but buyers refuse to be pressured.

Paul Kasmin's booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015.

Sales at Art Basel in Miami Beach—the anchor of the jam-packed Miami art week event—were fast and furious judging from dealer feedback in the first days of what turned out to be an active fair. The Miami Beach Convention Center opened its doors to VIPs Wednesday, December 2, and a public opening followed on Thursday December 3.  By the end of the second day, the list of confirmed sales was already considerable.

“The fair is as busy if not busier than it’s ever been,” Los Angeles dealer Michael Kohn told artnet News via email. “There are more people, more admirers, a bigger market,” he said. Among his sales, Kohn counted works by Lita Albuquerque, two works by Bruce Conner, one Wallace Berman and one Joe Goode, adding that these are “artists who are on their way to rediscovery” for their “historical California-based works.”

Long-time art collector Michel Cox Witmer, who also serves as the official US ambassador to the annual TEFAF fair in Maastricht in the Netherlands, told artnet News that a key difference in the current iteration of the fair, as compared with earlier years, is that “business is booming, but there is a lack of a frenzy.”

Based on his observations at the VIP preview, Witmer said “buyers are refusing to yield to pressure.” While praising the “excellent” quality of Art Basel in Miami Beach as well as the surrounding satellite fairs, he said it is gratifying to see collectors making careful decisions. Even in the opening hours, you see collectors “walking around the works, studying the works, asking questions.”

Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2015.Image: Courtesy of Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2015.
Image: Courtesy of Art Basel in Miami Beach.

“The first day of the fair has been a great success in terms of sales,” said New York dealer Paul Kasmin in an email to artnet News. Among his gallery’s sales: a mixed-media neon and LED work by Ivan Navarro, Nothing Will Come of Nothing (2015) sold for $120,000. Celia (1984), a charcoal on paper by David Hockney; an oil by Mark Ryden, Dymaxion Principle (2015); an untitled 1981 acrylic (The Card Players) by William Copley; and a 1976 vintage print by Peter Hujar, Christopher Street Pier 2 Crossed Legs (1976). Prices on these works were not provided to artnet News.

“It’s always a pleasure to connect with both new and old friends at Art Basel Miami Beach,”said New York gallerist Jack Shainman. The gallery was pleased, he noted, to showing work in the fair’s main booth as well as at special Art Basel sections including outdoors with Hank Willis Thomas (Public) and Carrie Mae Weems (Film), “as well as exhibitions throughout the design district with Hayv Kahraman and in the Rubell Family Collection’s ‘NO MAN’S LAND‘ and many artists in Jeffrey Deitch’s ‘Unrealism’ show.”


Hank Willis Thomas Earnest and Ruth (2015).
Image: Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Shainman said sales included Hank Willis Thomas’s Ernest and Ruth (2015), which is on view as part of Public, for $70,000. Another work by Thomas, Counterbalance (2015), was sold out (edition of three) for $45,000 each.

The gallery also sold Beast of Burden (2015), a digital c-print by Richard Mosse, for $42,000; a Nick Cave Soundsuit (2015), for $150,000; Yoan Capote’s Isla (calma) (2015), made of oil, nails, and fish-hooks on linen mounted to panel, sold for $37,000; Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s oil painting Brow Beater (2015) for $35,000, and Nowhere that Should Matter (2015) for $50,000; and Titus Kaphar’s Covered By Fear, Draped in Loss (2015) for $32,000.


Louise Nevelson Beards’ Wall (1958-59). ©Estate of Louise Nevelson/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Image: Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

A Pace Gallery representative said that during the early hours of the VIP preview there was intense demand for Louise Nevelson’s early sculptural and collage works. The gallery placed 16 works with various buyers at prices ranging from $75,000 to $1 million. Pace also reported selling major works by artists including Maya Lin, Agnes Martin, Prabhavthi Meppayil, and Elizabeth Murray. The gallery reported interest from important American collectors as well as South American buyers.

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (Paris and Salzburg) sold a major Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys (1980) for $1.4 million, Robert Rauschenberg’s assembled metal sculpture Appalachian Double Latch Spring Glut, (1989) for $770,000, and two Georg Baselitz paintings, including Bündel (Bunch) (2015) for $800,000 and Es is kein Zimmer frei (2015) for $534,000.

Ropac also sold Robert Longo’s Untitled (Potemkin, Black Square) (2015) for $450,000 and Alex Katz’s Four Trees 3 (2015) for $400,000.

Galerie Gmurzynska of Switzerland aimed high once again in celebration of its 50-year anniversary, with a salon-style hanging curated by Italian wunderkind Germano Celant. The gallery reported the sale of a painting by Wifredo Lam for $500,000.

One of the highest reported prices we’ve heard yet this season was Van de Weghe gallery’s sale of Francis Bacon’s Man in Blue VI (1954), which had an asking price of $15 million. 


Los Carpinteros Duo Rojo (2015).
© Los Carpinteros Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York. Image: Courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.

At Sean Kelly’s booth, a representative said sales were brisk in the opening hours including all works on view by Cuban collective Los Carpinteros, Antony Gormley, and Hugo McCloud. The gallery also sold works on the stand by artists including Jose Dávila, Laurent Grasso, Ellsworth Kelly, Idris Khan, Callum Innes, and Alec Soth.

London-based Lisson Gallery reported strong sales in the early hours of the fair, noting that it placed about half a dozen works with collectors and institutions. Lisson brought numerous new works that had been executed in the past year and had not been exhibited before.


Antony Gormley CUMULATE (2011).
© Antony Gormley, Photography: Stephen White, London Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York.

These included Cory Arcangel’s looped digital file Shania/Lakes (2015) for approximately $70,000; Allora & Calzadilla’s Solar Catastrophe (2015), and Ryan Gander’s I Be…(V) (2015) for an asking price above $100,000. A 2015 pastel and pencil on paper by Spencer Finch titled Meadow (following a bee 1″=25), sold in the range of $40,000 to $70,000, according to the gallery.

Hauser & Wirth said sales included: Paul McCarthy’s White Snow, Dopey, Black Red White, Black (2011-2015), a black walnut stain sculpture, for $1.5 million; an untitled 1969 Philip Guston charcoal on paper for $300,000, as well as a Guston untitled circa 1975 drawing (Drawing from The Phlebitis Series) for $250,000; and Ellen Gallagher’s Blue Streak (1996) sold for $500,000.


Allora & Calzadilla Solar Catastrophe (2015).
© Allora & Calzadilla, Image: Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, London.

Berlin gallery Sprueth Magers reported sales including George Condo’s oil painting Gigantaur (2015) for $600,000, Andreas Gursky’s SH IV (2014) from an edition of six, for about $420,000, and Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Beneath You) (2015) for $320,000.

London gallery Thomas Dane reported sales including a 2014 work by Kelley Walker for $400,000, two large drawings by Hurvin Anderson for just under $100,000 each, and Lynda Benglis’s Comanche (2013) for $65,000.

Mitchell-Innes & Nash sold Brent Wadden’s 4 Black Bars (2015), made of handwoven fibers, wool, cotton, and acrylic on canvas, for about $50,000, and two photographs from Leigh Ledare’s “Pretend You’re Actually Alive” series, in the range of $5,000-to-$10,000.

Tornabuoni Art, which operates spaces in Florence, Paris, and London sold a work by recently anointed market darling Paolo Scheggi, Zone Riflesse (1964) for about $300,000.


Ivan Navarro, Nothing Will Come Of It (2015).
Image: Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York.

London gallerist Alison Jacques reported sales including a Lygia Clark work on paper from 1955 for $600,000, as well as a Dorothea Tanning painting from 1979 titled Salut, délire! (Hail, Delirium) for $400,000.

Skarstedt Gallery sales included Gunther Uecker’s untitled 1962 work of nails, and white paint on stretched canvas, on an asking price of $1 million: George Condo’s Artist and Muse (2015) on an asking price of $400,000; and David Salle’s Pouring, Leaving (2015) for $275,000.

And at Salon 94, the gallery sold a Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri painting on the first day, and last night, they had two Marilyn Minter prints left, as well as three paintings by Lorna Simpson. “Maybe it is the year of the woman after all,” a gallery representative told artnet News via email.

Stay tuned for artnet’s ongoing coverage of major Art Basel in Miami Beach sales.

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