Serge Poliakoff's Shanghai Surprise

Jeff Koons defends himself, Thelma Golden's Bright Future & Frank Dunphy's Sale Outperforms

Christie’s Does $17.89m in Shanghai Sale 

Strong prices for Zao Wou-ki, Serge Poliakoff and Richard Lin

Christie’s held a sale in Shanghai late last week that offers an interesting window into the Mainland Chinese interest in Western art. The two sales totaled ¥122m yuan which is equivalent to $17.89m with the top lot a Zao Wou-ki from 1992 nearly tripled the pre-sale estimate of ¥16m to sell for ¥45.6m. Demand for Zao’s work is strong and the success is not really a surprise. But the second most valuable lot in the sales was a Salvador Dalí sculpture that sold for ¥9m over a ¥3.5m high estimate. Even more surprising was the ¥7.56m ($1.1m) paid for Serge Poliakoff’s Rouge bleu jaune which was more than three times the high estimate of ¥2.4m. That’s the third highest price ever paid for a work by Poliakoff. 

Other strong sales were Sean Scully’s 4.18.04 which had a ¥1.6m high estimate and a ¥3.12m premium price. Two works by Richard Lin, including Ynyslas which sold for ¥3m, were strong performers as was a Giorgio de Chirico, a Bernard Buffet clown and a Botero.

Koons Faces Counterfeiting Charge in France for Banality Series Work

Frank Davidovici is suing Jeff Koons and the Centre Pompidou in French courts, Le Monde explains, for ‘counterfeiting’ his 1985 ad for Naf-Naf which Koons used to create a very similar work out of porcelain. The 1988 Koons work was shown at the Pompidou in 2014 which caused the suit and is owned by the Prada Foundation. Davidovici wants to sculpture confiscated and to be paid €300k in damages. 

The Pompidou points out that the core of the Banality series of which the sculpture in question is a part is reproducing images from advertising. Koons has lost a similar suit in France for another work from the Banality series.

Kerry James Marshall Study for Past Times Makes $1.8m at Sotheby’s

The art advisor who helped place Jerry James Marshall’s Past Times with the owner who sold it last season for a record $21m has sold a study for the work at Sotheby’s in today’s very strong Contemporary Curated sale. The work made $1.8m. The sales was still going when we sent this email. More results tomorrow.

Frank Dunphy’s Yellow Ball Turns Green

Damien Hirst’s former manager, Frank Dunphy, sold his art collection at Sotheby’s last week. Ten years after the Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale, which has taken a beating in the art press recently as writers crowed over Hirst’s fall in prices, Dunphy’s most valuable works were by Lucio Fontana and Andy Warhol. Nonetheless, Hirst played a central role in the £10m ($13.3m) sale. 

Sotheby’s put together the highlights:

One of the highlights of the sale was Damien Hirst’s Smashing Yellow Ball at Peace Painting, a fitting present from the artist to the Dunphys on the occasion of their retirement. No fewer than eight bidders drove the final sale price to £298,000 (est. £100,000-150,000).

The sale opened with a flurry of bids for Damien Hirst’s 1997 spot painting, N-Chloroacetyl-L-Phenylalanine (PFS) Crystalline, which sold to an Asian private collector for £358,000, triple its pre-sale estimate (£100,000-150,000). Boys ‘n’ Girls ‘n’ the Sun (2006), a butterfly work in three parts, achieved £574,000), while Epiphany (2005), a large circular work with butterflies, reached £490,000 (est. £280,000-350,000). 

The top lot of the sale was Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1961), an emblematic tagli (cut) piece by the Italian artist, which was competed for by six bidders to sell for £1,174,000 (est. £600,000-800,000). A further highlight was Andy Warhol’s Dollar Sign (1982), which realised £730,000 (est. £200,000-300,000), following activity from seven bidders. Measuring just over 25 by 20cm, this work was originally gifted by Warhol to his great friend David Whitney, the collector, critic and gallerist. Two works by Takashi Murakami sold over estimate. His Rainbow Flower – 7 O’Clock sold for £137,000 (est. £40,000-60,000) and Flower of Joy – Yellow made £106,250 (est. £40,000-60,000).

The Dunphys became a fixture among the YBAs, advising a wide range of artists including Tracey Emin and Angus Fairhurst. After seeing competition from three bidders, Emin’s My Heart is With You And I Love You Always Always Always, a neon work created in 2006, sold for £131,250 (est. £40,000-60,000). A Gorilla sculpture by Angus FairhurstA couple of differences between thinking and feeling (2000) set a new auction record by the artist, selling at £27,500 (est. £8,000-12,000). 

Thelma Golden Casts a Long Shadow

Thelma Golden gets a profile in the LA Times on the occasion of receiving a 2018 J. Paul Getty Medal alongside Richard Serra and Anges Gund.

“Often, it makes me laugh when people who have never been to the museum would come visit,” says Thelma Golden, the museum’s director. “The two things people would often say is that they thought I’d be taller and that the museum would be much bigger.”

Lurking in the background is the question of Golden’s future. She’s got a new building to complete at the Studio Museum in Harlem. After that, expectations are running high. The profile tries to address rumors she was considered for the Director’s role at the Met in New York. But others wonder if she’s not the inevitable candidate to take over MoMA in years to come. 

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