Here Are 8 of Our Favorite Agenda-Setting Stories From Artnet PRO in 2023

Here's a taster of the analyst-caliber information you get with an Artnet News PRO subscription.

Sotheby's specialists taking bids over the phone during the December 6 Old Master sale. Photo: courtesy of Sotheby's.

As the year draws to a close, we want to wish you a happy holidays from Artnet News PRO, our members-only service that gives readers all the tools to navigate the high-stakes terrain of the art market.

Since our launch in 2021, thousands of the art world’s most passionate denizens have joined our community for early access to our essential market news, illuminating opinion and analysis, and actionable intelligence, direct to their inbox. You get everything from the latest play-by-play on the legal and regulatory landscape and the challenges—and scandals—altering the direction of the art market in real time.

Our PRO segment offers analyst-caliber information that, without charging for subscriptions, would be impractical for a site like ours to produce at scale. Think of it this way: for just one article, a PRO reporter might meet with half a dozen sources, interview a dozen people, and work with our Business Intelligence Team to vet more than a decade’s worth of auction-sales data.

If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, allow us to whet your appetite. Below, we’ve pulled together a selection of our team’s favorite PRO stories from 2023. If you like what you see but haven’t subscribed yet, there’s never been a better time: Sign up here.

We hope you’ll join us.


Even Amid a Softer Market, Miriam Cahn’s Auction Prices Are Spiking. How High Will They Go?

By Vivienne Chow

Miriam Cahn

Museum of Contemporary Art MGKSiegen. 2022 Rubens Prize winner Miriam Cahn in her exhibition “My Jews.” Photo: Philipp Ottendörfer

While the art market slowed down all around her, it’s actually been a good year to Swiss painter Miriam Cahn. The number of searches for the Swiss artist’s works went up dramatically in the first six months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022 and earlier. The total sales value of Cahn’s work in the first half of 2023 was more than $3.2 million, 5.6 times the total sales value in 2022 and 15 times the sum in 2021.

Indeed, almost all of Cahn’s top 10 prices at auction were set in the first half of 2023, including the artist’s record, for Das Genaue Hinschauen (The Close Look) (2018), which sold for £584,200 ($703,093) including fees at Sotheby’s “The Now” evening sale in London in March, fetching nearly 20 times the presale estimate.

Market experts believe that this is just the beginning, expecting Cahn’s prices to continue to grow. “As there is so much demand, naturally some collectors will be tempted to sell works,” said Leonie Grainger, Bonhams’ head of post-War and contemporary. “The artist has created many stunning works and I don’t believe the strongest works have yet come to the secondary market.”


He Was the Legendary Impresario Who Put Jean-Michel Basquiat on the Map. But Now Former Friends Reveal Another, Darker Side of Diego Cortez

By Katya Kazakina

Diego Cortez, 1982. Portrait by Gilles Tapie commissioned by Seth Tillett. Courtesy: Seth Tillett

Friends described Diego Cortez—the artist, curator, adviser, and co-founder of the legendary Mudd Club in Tribeca, who died in 2021 at the age of 74—as “a brilliant visionary,” a “great impresario,” “a charismatic guy,” “always generous.”

The artist who was the keystone of Cortez’s reputation was Jean-Michel Basquiat. Cortez brought the charismatic prodigy to public attention, curating a seminal exhibition at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in 1981, and served on the artist’s authentication committee until it was dismantled in 2012.

But, “the thing about Diego is that he was such a contradiction,” the musician Arto Lindsay told Artnet News. “He was so generous, and also a thief. And he often stole from the same people he was generous to.”


Peter Doig’s Latest Work Is ‘the Most Talked About Show in London.’ But What’s Really Going on Behind the Scenes of His Art Market?

By Eileen Kinsella

Peter Doig. Photo by Fergus Carmichael. Image courtesy The Courtauld.

Peter Doig. Photo by Fergus Carmichael. Image courtesy The Courtauld.

In the art world, a superstar artist quietly parting ways with his gallery of more than two decades is big news. Peter Doig did it on the eve of a major museum exhibition, which is basically unheard of.

Doig’s show of 12 new paintings and 20 works on paper at the Cortauld Gallery in London so impressed viewers that it was suggested that the Gauguins also on display there would benefit from being near Doig’s work, and not the other way around.

Amid all the buzz about Doig’s artistic genius, it would have been easy to miss the major bit of industry news hiding in the wall labels: the conspicuous absence of Doig’s longtime dealer, Michael Werner Gallery. Puzzled by the observation, we took it to Werner. Had dealer and artist parted ways after nearly a quarter of a century? A gallery spokesperson confirmed that they had.


Patti Wong, the Retiring Sotheby’s Rainmaker Who Made Hong Kong an Auction Mecca, Reflects on Asia’s Rise as a Market Powerhouse

By Vivienne Chow

Patti Wong as chairman of Sotheby's Asia photographed in 2012. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Patti Wong as chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, photographed in 2012. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Patti Wong retired from her role as international chairman of Sotheby’s at the end of 2022, capping off an illustrious 30-year tenure during which she built the auction house’s empire across Asia, and arguably single-handedly made Hong Kong a major global art auction hub alongside New York and London.

Wong also played a key role in introducing Western art sales in Asia and expanding Sotheby’s client base in the region. By 2020, half of all works priced at $5 million or above received bids or were bought by Asians at the company’s auctions.

In an exclusive interview with Artnet PRO, Wong detailed her history—and the art market history she helped make.


People Just Love to Hate Los Angeles Art Dealer Nino Mier. Will He Be Able to Make Better Friends in New York?

By Annie Armstrong

Nino Mier. Courtesy of Nino Mier Gallery.

Nino Mier clearly has a chip on his shoulder, and seems to believe the whole art world is out to get him. He’s not paranoid.

The prototypical Los Angeles dealer—reliable tan, slick slim-fitted suits, and a flashy grin—has been called ruthless, shady, and a flipper (although it’s a little more complicated than that). Mier sat down with Artnet News In advance of the opening of his first New York gallery space earlier this year and sorted some of the rumor from fact.


A ‘Tsunami of Lawsuits’ Hits the Art World as Money Gets Tight, Regulators Descend, and the Music Finally Stops

By Katya Kazakina

The NEA has issued an alert about potential fraud.

The NEA has issued an alert about potential fraud.

In September, we noticed that explosive new allegations were being lobbed with alarming regularity. While the art world has long been the milieu of scandal and accusation, the ferocity and frequency of lengthy legal claims appears to be reaching a fever pitch.

There’s the battle between collectors Candace Barasch and Richard Grossman and their longtime adviser Lisa Schiff; by the prominent artist, Jeffrey Gibson, against Kavi Gupta Gallery, which represented him; and by the Orlando Museum of Art against its former director Aaron De Groft. There’s a knot of cases around the estate of artist John Baldessari. The powerful Wildenstein family is on trial in France, accused of an epic tax evasion. Meanwhile, former employees of Larry Gagosian’s restaurant Kappa Massa have just sued to get back their unpaid tips. A class-action lawsuit against Sotheby’s (and others) alleges that the auction house helped to inflate the values of Bored Apes NFTs, which have since plummeted.

“I can’t remember another time there was such a tsunami of lawsuits,” said Todd Levin, a veteran art adviser based in New York.


Marfa Invitational’s Status as a Charitable Foundation Is Revoked, an Art Collector Runs for U.S. Senate, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

By Annie Armstrong

Michael Phelan, the founder of the Marfa Invitational. Courtesy Marfa Invitational.

Michael Phelan, the founder of the Marfa Invitational. Courtesy Marfa Invitational.

Since 2019, artist Michael Phelan has hosted the Marfa Invitational, a small commercial art fair in the tiny Texas town that Donald Judd brought art world attention to back in the 1970s. Over those four years, Marfa has changed considerably, with Beeple and Jack Dorsey both buying houses there, Bjarke Ingels getting in on the action by building a new neighborhood of 3D-printed homes, and other signals of rapid commercial development.

As is natural with any period of rapid development, there may have been some oversights along the way. Wet Paint has learned that Marfa Invitational, which was given 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status back in August of 2020, has had that designation as a charitable foundation revoked by the Internal Revenue Service, meaning it is no longer eligible for the exemptions that fall under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. According to public records, no annual 990 taxes have been filed by Phelan for the foundation for the past three years, which is what led to the change.

Since the status was revoked on May 15 of this year, board members Alex Scull and Penny Aaron have stepped back, as well as two of the board’s advisors, Kathleen Loughlin and Debi Wisch.


Known as a Deep-Pocketed, ‘Aggressive’ Chinese Collector, Ding Yixiao Has Now Been Blacklisted by the Art Market. What Happened?

By Eileen Kinsella and Vivienne Chow

Phillips New Asia headquarters in West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong. Courtesy of Phillips.

Phillips New Asia headquarters in West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong. Courtesy of Phillips.

Just two years ago, Ding Yixiao, a contemporary art collector who goes by “Xiao” and who founded the Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art in Rizhao, in China’s Shandong province, was paying hefty sums for artworks at auction. It was he who was behind what was then the record auction price for an Emily Mae Smith painting. Broom Life (2014) sold for HK$12.4 million ($1.6 million) at Phillips Hong Kong in June 2021, smashing the high estimate of HK$600,000 ($78,000).

Artnet News identified him at the time as “an extremely private deep-pocketed Shanghai-based collector who’s aggressively building a collection fit for a private museum, regardless of the cost.”

Now, Xiao is allegedly persona non grata with several art-world professionals, banned from doing business with Phillips auction house, and leaving a trail of incendiary social media posts in his wake. One source acted as a proxy for Xiao at an auction, only to find themselves on the hook when he allegedly refused to pay for an artwork that was won on his behalf.



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