NY-SF Job Swap

Thomas Campbell Appointed to Fine Art Museums of SF Top Job; Pierre Bergé Can't Give It Away; Christie's African & Oceanic in Paris = $7.5m; How Much Is Too Much for Chop Suey?; Is TEFAF's Balcony Bar Ready for the Big Time?

Tom Campbell to Lead SF’s Fine Art Museums

Charles Desmarais reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that the Met’s former Director, Thomas Campbell, has been hired to be the director of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco. The appoint effectively completes a job swap between Campbell and Max Hollein who was recently appointed to a newly created role as Director of the Metropolitan Museum without the full responsibilities of CEO. Desmarias writes:

  • “At a meeting of the FAMSF trustees Tuesday, the board chose Thomas P. Campbell as director. In that role, Campbell will assume responsibility for leading two of the Bay Area’s most prominent visual arts institutions, the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum. His appointment comes at a time when the organization must restore confidence in the continuity of its leadership — the entrance to the director’s office has been a virtual revolving door for the past seven years — and continue to build on recent artistic and fiscal success. At the same time, Campbell must rehabilitate his own professional reputation after a rocky final period at the Met.”

Pierre Bergé’s Golden Touch

Sotheby’s sale of Pierre Bergé’s is only two-thirds through but it has already attracted more than 2500 bidders from 72 countries. The Paris sale has been rich in works by Bernard Buffet, Bergé’s partner before he met Yves Saint-Laurent, Orientalist works, paintings by Gericault, odds and ends by Warhol, Picasso, and a few old Masters. There were decorative works by the Lalannes. And a great deal more.

The Orientalist works made €5.5m against €1.5m estimates; the Buffets were bid to €4.4m over the €1.4m pre-sale expectations. An astonishing 92% of the lots sold above the high estimates. The last two sessions resume Wednesday.

Christie’s Paris African & Oceanic = $7.5m

Christie’s African and Oceanic art sales made a combined €6,607,875 ($7,520,137) in Paris yesterday. The Adolphe Stoclet collection which attracted a thousand visitors to the exhibition realised €1,4M. The great majority of that value lay in the Yaka headrest that sold for €1,2M against a presale estimate of €300,000-500,000, setting a new world auction record for a Yaka work of art. In the various owner sale, a Fang Mask Ngil, sold for €2,407,500 and a Songye statue was sold for €439,500. A Dogon figure of a horse from the former collection of Tristan Tzara sold for €75,000; a Kwele mask from the former collection of artist and sculptor Arman and later in Claude Berri’s collection made €162,500; four other masks once owned by Berri attracted strong prices, including a Haïda mask that sold €187,500.

A Loftier TEFAF?

As TEFAF comes to a close in the Park Avenue Armory, those who spent any time in the new Balcony Bar at the top of the armory’s staircase with its view out over the Drill Hall might like to ponder what the fair might be like if TEFAF were to take advantage of the entire mezzanine that surrounds the fair floor. Opened this Spring with a stunning Calder mounted above it, the Balcony Bar is one of TEFAF’s more innovative uses of the Armory’s space. During Friday’s opening of the fair, there was a discussion of using the upper-level space to change the entire flow of the fair connecting the booths on the main floor with multiple entry and exit points and the upstairs gallery spaces as well. If you’re an exhibitor or a regular attendee, don’t be shy about expressing your opinion to the organizers.

What’s the Right Price for Hopper’s Chop Suey?

Long considered one of the last great Edward Hopper paintings still in private hands, Barneby Ebsworth’s Chop Suey is on the block in two weeks with a $70m estimate. With so few Hoppers trading hands—it was five years ago when the artist’s work last hit a high note at $40.5m—that $70m may seem like an aspirational number. Nonetheless, the work has a third-party guarantor which shows that there is both demand at that level and that Christie’s may be hedging the price. That caution is interesting because Ebsworth tells us in his memoirs that he was offered $60m for the work in the mid-1990s. By comparison, Andy Warhol’s Orange Marilyn sold in 1998 for $17m and was reported to have traded privately last year for a price 15-times that. Now, there was probably a lot more room for Warhol to appreciate over Hopper. If Ebsworth was telling the truth, he was offered in the 90s a price four times the Warhol. No one would suggest a Hopper would get bid to four times a top Warhol today. We’d be talking about the mythical billion-dollar picture then. At the same time, has interest in Hopper and American art waned so much that Chop Suey will trade flat over the last 20 years?

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