Claudia Schiffer, the model, and hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen joined browsers at London’s Frieze Art Fair as a Damien Hirst sculpture priced at 3.5 million pounds ($5.6 million) was among the early sales.
Dasha Zhukova, the partner of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, was also at the VIP Day yesterday. Europe’s biggest commercial event devoted to living artists has $375 million worth of art, according to insurer Hiscox Ltd. Collectors are attracted by the emphasis on works by younger artists, mostly priced at less than $100,000, after the financial crisis depressed values for more expensive, heavily traded names by as much as 50 percent.
“The prices seem pretty reasonable,” Morgan Long, head of art investment at the London-based Fine Art Fund, said in an interview. “This is a place where dealers try to be sensible and this isn’t the time to be silly with price points. Over the years Frieze has become more and more commercial. The major galleries aren’t prepared to go out on a limb.”
Hirst is one of the artists whose values dropped the most in the last two years. His 3.5 million-pound 2006 fish-in- formaldehyde work, “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths,” consisting of more than 400 specimens in three cabinets, dominated the booth of the London-based White Cube. It sold to an Asian collector within the first hour of the preview.
In September 2008, a Hirst shark in formaldehyde fetched 9.6 million pounds at Sotheby’s “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” auction.
A 10-foot (3 meters) Hirst cabinet filled with Viagra tablets also loomed large on the booth of Gagosian, next to works by fellow market staples Richard Prince and Andy Warhol. It remained unsold during the afternoon of the preview, at about $6 million, according to dealers. The gallery itself doesn’t reveal individual prices.
International collectors such as Dakis Joannou of Greece and London jeweler Laurence Graff were also viewing Frieze, now in its eighth year in a temporary structure in Regent’s Park and with 173 galleries taking part.
London’s Lisson Gallery was one of several dealers reporting better sales than in 2009. Six works by Marina Abramovic priced between $30,000 and $300,000, and four sculptures by Anish Kapoor, ranging from 200,000 pounds for an editioned hanging object and 800,000 pounds for a large black fiberglass piece, were among the confirmed sales.
“It’s much faster than last year,” Nicholas Logsdail, the Lisson Gallery’s director, said in an interview. “Wealthy people have become bored with the financial markets and are paying more attention to art.”
The Brussels- and Paris-based dealer Almine Rech found an early buyer for a new, purple-chrome abstract sculpture by the German artist Anselm Reyle at 189,000 euros ($263,880). The New York-based dealer Marianne Boesky had sold four new works by the U.S. painter Donald Moffett for $60,000 each. Three sold to American collectors and one to a European, said Boesky.
“This year’s Frieze definitely feels more successful than 2009,” Jorg-Michael Bertz, a Dusseldorf-based art adviser, said. “The financial problems have been going on for so long, people now know how to deal with the situation.”
Brussels-based dealer Xavier Hufkens, one of 20 new exhibitors, sold four sculptures recently welded out of found metal by the Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Exploring themes of industrial decay, they were priced from $43,500 to $87,000.
Meanwhile, buyers in the market for works at auction remain selective. Thirty-one percent of the 51 lots offered last night in a contemporary-art event at Phillips de Pury failed to sell.
The auction was boosted by the presence of David Hockney’s 1978 watercolor, “Autumn Pool (Paper Pool 29).” The six-part work had been estimated to fetch at least 700,000 pounds and its Los Angeles-based seller had been guaranteed a minimum price by an external guarantor. It sold to a telephone bidder for a top price of 1.3 million pounds, an auction record for a work on paper by the artist, said Phillips.
Elsewhere, bidding was mostly below or within estimates. New York-based collector Adam Lindemann had consigned a group of 13 works by younger German artists such as Jonathan Meese, Anselm Reyle and Andre Butzer. Eight of the works sold, raising 351,150 pounds with fees against a low estimate of 465,000 pounds based on hammer prices.
The most highly valued was Reyle’s Koons-influenced purple chrome abstract sculpture, “Untitled.” Dating from 2006, it sold for 115,250 pounds against estimates of 100,000 pounds to 150,000 pounds. It was similar to the one sold by Almine Rech at Frieze. The auction totaled 6.6 million pounds with fees against a low estimate of 5.6 million pounds, Phillips said.
Tate’s Toilet Roll
Tate bought 120,000 pounds worth of art at Frieze, as much as it did last year, including an installation with a Coke bottle and a Czechoslovakian toilet roll from 1978.
Using money raised by a charity -- the Outset Contemporary Art Fund -- Tate Director Nicholas Serota and a team of curators shopped the booths and picked up works by two U.S. and one Slovak artist: Jimmie Durham, Lorna Simpson, and Julius Koller.
Serota said Outset funding had allowed Tate to boost its collection of emerging artists.
“This is increasingly important at a time when funding for acquisitions is so limited,” he said in an e-mailed press release.
Tate is one of many U.K. cultural institutions facing funding cuts when the government announces it spending plans on Oct. 20.
Durham’s work is a 1993 installation made with human bones, metal hardware, wood and a Coke bottle. Bearing a lengthy French title taken from Victor Hugo, it makes references to mortality, the consumer society, and North American Indian heritage.
Simpson’s “Five Day Forecast” (1988) consists of five prints of a woman whose arms are crossed and whose head isn’t shown. The photos are coupled with labels like “misconstrue,” “misfunction” or “misidentify” in block letters.
Koller’s “Universal Futurological Opening” (1978) -- one of three works by the late Slovak artist bought by Tate -- is a play on the acronym U.F.O., and consists of a roll of toilet paper from what was then Communist Czechoslovakia with a felt- tip pen inscription.
Another Koller work is a tray painted gray and bearing the sign by which the artist identified himself, a question mark.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at firstname.lastname@example.org.