Koons Leads $2 Billion Art-Market Test for Frieze Week

London’s Frieze Week starts today with a record 10 fairs, about as many auctions and numerous dealer shows boosting the value of the art on sale to as much as $2 billion.

Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park opens to VIP visitors tomorrow and attracts billionaires looking for new art stars and established names. Among the 152 galleries taking part, Gagosian will be showing five large-scale works by Jeff Koons. The sister event, Frieze Masters, opens today with 130 dealers showing a contrasting range of modern and historic works.

“The pace is non-stop,” New York-based art adviser Heather Flow said in an interview. “There are a lot of art fairs this week, though I’m not sure if too many good things to see is such a bad problem. The search for the next superstar is gathering momentum. Secondary market prices are astronomical.”

Frieze and its offshoots have grown into the biggest seven-day concentration of art-market events in any European capital. Also opening today are the Pavilion of Art + Design in Berkeley Square and the inaugural 1:54 fair of contemporary African art at Somerset House.

Starting tomorrow, Phillips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s International will be offering more than 900 works of postwar and contemporary art valued at as much as 152.9 million pounds ($245 million).

Balloon Dog

The Koons works at Gagosian’s Frieze booth include the stainless steel “Sacred Heart (Blue/Magenta), (1994-2007), part of the U.S.-based artist’s “Celebration” series. Gagosian never discloses prices to the media. A version of “Balloon Dog” from the series is estimated to sell for between $35 million and $55 million at Christie’s New York next month.

A recent painting by Colombian-born Oscar Murillo, priced at as much as $150,000, will be shown at Frieze by the New York-and London-based dealer David Zwirner.

Two years ago, paintings by Murillo, who has a London studio, could be bought for less than $3,000. He is now hailed by some as the new Jean-Michel Basquiat. One of his abstracts sold for a record $401,000 at Phillips New York on Sept. 19.

Hauser & Wirth will show U.S.-based Sterling Ruby’s 2013 spray paint-on-canvas “SP246,” priced at $550,000, typifying the upper price levels at a fair that specializes in works by younger, living artists. More valuable works by dead artists, stretching back to Old Masters and beyond, will be shown today at the second edition of Frieze Masters.

Old Master

The event has been bolstered by the arrival of heavyweight exhibitors such as the London-based Old Master specialist Johnny van Haeften, and New York’s Mnuchin and Dominique Levy galleries, who will bring big-ticket 20th-century classics.

“The fair has reinvigorated interest in people coming to London for this week,” says the dealer Thomas Dane, who is exhibiting at both Frieze events. “Masters is more of an adventure, and hopefully the connoisseurship we see at that event will spill over into Frieze.” He has a 1950s Lucian Freud drawing of Francis Bacon, priced at 1.3 million pounds.

The Pavilion of Art + Design London, a fair of 60 dealers held in a temporary structure near Claridge’s and the Connaught hotels, includes a white single-cut Lucio Fontana “Concetto Spaziale, Attesa,” priced at 6 million euros ($8.15 million) on the booth of the London dealer Ben Brown Fine Arts. Paris-based Galerie Applicat-Prazan will be showing a 1953 Pierre Soulages abstract at 3.5 million euros.

The main innovation of this year’s Frieze Week is the first 1:54 fair devoted to contemporary African art with 15 dealers.

The fair will include photographs by Angola’s Edson Chagas, who won the Golden Lion for his nation’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale in June. The London-based Jack Bell Gallery will be showing art made of weapons from the Mozambique civil war by Goncalo Mabunda. Prices for the artist range from 5,000 pounds to 14,000 pounds.

Muse highlights include Amanda Gordon’s Scene Last Night, Richard Vines on food and Jorg von Uthmann on Paris art.

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