Dealers Report Major Sales Throughout Art Basel 2016

A stellar week for sales of blue chip art.

Tracey Emin for Unlimited at Art Basel in Basel 2016. courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, White Cube, Xavier Hufkens, David Zwirner, and Art Basel.
Tracey Emin for Unlimited at Art Basel in Basel 2016. courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, White Cube, Xavier Hufkens, David Zwirner, and Art Basel.

Even after the recent spring auction season in New York made some art world observers question the health of the overall art market, the latest edition of Art Basel came roaring out of the gate and cemented the strength of the uppermost reaches of the art market. By all accounts, demand for top-notch blue chip works was as strong as ever.

“All in all, we were on fire in Basel,” said Hauser & Wirth partner Iwan Wirth, in a statement emailed to artnet News. “We went into the week wondering what we’d find out about the market. And here’s what we learned: The private market is in an extremely healthy condition. The truly great material prevails. And thanks to our new Asia strategy and our expanded team focused on the region, we are thrilled to report major multi-million dollar sales to Asian collectors. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

Among the sales the gallery reported were Mike Kelley‘s Memory Ware Flat #10 (2001), sold to a private collection for $4.4 million, and Lygia Pape’s Book of Night and Day (1963–1976), a 35-part acrylic on wood piece, sold for $2.8 million.

Sales at New York’s Mnuchin Gallery included Brice Marden‘s First Window Painting (1981), an oil and paper on board (four panels in all), for about $4 million, and John Chamberlain‘s Honest 508 (1973-74), a sculpture with painted and chromium plated steel, for $3 million.

Robert Indiana <i>Decade: Autoportrait </i> (1968-1971). Courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska

Robert Indiana, Decade: Autoportrait (1968-1971). Courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska.

While reports of healthy sales poured in throughout the duration of the fair’s 47th edition, a change in pace did not go unnoticed. Mathias Rastorfer, CEO of Galerie Gmurzynska, called it “the new normal.” In an email to artnet News he explained: “You make some sales at the beginning and then it develops over the week. It’s more reflective.”

The gallery saw some of its major sales finalize on Friday, three days after the VIP opening, and sold works by Robert Indiana, Yves Klein, Kurt Schwitters, and Joan Miró at prices ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.

Lygia Pape, <i>Book of Night and Day,</i> (1963-1976). Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, ©Projeto Lygia Pape

Lygia Pape, Book of Night and Day, (1963-1976). Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, ©Projeto Lygia Pape.

David Zwirner—who announced last month the exclusive representation of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation—placed five works by Josef Albers with collectors for prices ranging from $300,000 to $1.2 million. The gallery also sold a major new work by Bridget Riley, Coda (2016), to the Long Museum in Shanghai.

Over at the Unlimited sector, the gallery sold Stan Douglas’s six-hour video Luanda-Kinshasa, presented together with Victoria Miro Gallery in London, to an unnamed collector.

Tracey Emin‘s massive mirror-and-neon installation at Unlimited, jointly presented by Lehmann Maupin, White Cube, and Xavier Hufkens, sold for an undisclosed amount on the fair’s third day, too.

Packed with institution-sized presentations, it’s hardly surprising that artworks presented in the Unlimited sector performed well. In addition to the sales of Mike Kelley’s Reconstructed History (for $1.5 million) and Paul McCarthy‘s 1994 Tomato Head (Green) (for $4.75 million) reported on day one, and the sale of Prabhavathi Meppayil’s ‘tw/one’ (2016)—presented by Pace Gallery, Esther Schipper/Johnen, and GallerySKE—reported on day two, Louise Lawler’s moving installation Helms Amendment (1989) sold on day three for a sum around its $1.6 million asking price, via Blondeau & Cie.

Installation view of Galerie Thomas at Art Basel in Basel 2016.

Installation view of Galerie Thomas at Art Basel in Basel 2016.

Munich dealers Galerie Thomas reported sales of a painting by Emil Nolde, a work by Edvard Munch, and a Sam Francis for prices ranging from $250,000-$500,000.

New York dealers Acquavella Galleries placed an artwork by Tom Wesselmann with a private collector for $3.5 million, and London dealers Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert sold a piece by Sean Scully for $1 million, while Massimo De Carlo sold a work by Rudolf Stingel for $1.8 million.

“After the first few months of 2016, when the art market hadn’t lived its best moment, we were delighted to see such a strong interest in the works we brought to the fair,” dealer Thaddaeus Ropac said in a statement. “This year collectors made very quick decisions when it concerned important art works. Art Basel was, once again, a very successful fair for us.”


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