Behind The Canvas: Your weekly recap on art world news

January 28, 2022

Don’t Throw Stones in Glass Palaces

The art world was left in gasps on Wednesday when it was reported that the Foire Internationale d’art contemporain (FIAC) had lost it’s autumn slot in the Grand Palais to none other than the Swiss fair, Art Basel. The French governmental body responsible for the Grand Palais (RMN-GP) said that MCH Group, owner of the Art Basel fairs, had been chosen to launch a contemporary art fair in FIAC’s place from October 2022. Naturally, RX France, the parent company of the FIAC felt snubbed by the decision and released a statement alluding to pressing legal charges against the Grand Palais and Art Basel. Tense stuff.

“Art Pause-L”

Like your friends that thought getting engaged during a pandemic was a good idea, the long awaited Art Basel Hong Kong has needed to postpone it’s 2022 dates. The international fair was meant to take place this March at the Hong Kong Convention  and Exhibition Center, but unfortunately due to surges in Delta and Omicron variants, MCH moved it to May thinking it would be less strenuous on exhibitions and travelers alike, given how strict the policies are in Hong Kong. Despite the flux in schedule the fair is still expecting to have 137 galleries represented and artists spanning 28 different countries. May 25th – 29th has been announced as the new dates for, fingers crossed that stays.

Sotheby’s Masters Week Saw Huge Success

Yesterday Sotheby’s held their 2022 Old Masters Sale. We had already done a brief overview on some of the major lots, so check that out too.

The sale was seen as a major success despite Chris Apostle’s demeanor throughout the auction, totaling $91 million in sales. This is far beyond the given estimates between $73.1 – $86 million.

  • Botticelli’s Man of Sorrows fetched nearly half of that total when the hammer went down at $39.9 million. Two other lots garnered a healthy bidding war.
  • One was an Egyptian limestone statue that was previously part of a collection in the Met for 25 years raked in $8 million, well above the higher estimate of $4 million.
  • The other was a painting by Pieter van Mol. This beautiful masterpiece set a new auction record for the Dutch master. What a great way to kick off this upcoming auction season. Old dogs can learn new tricks and set new records!

Art news that moved us to:

courtesy of giphy 
  • France’s National assembly in a unanimous vote decided to return 15 artworks that were stolen back to the descendants of the Jewish families targeted during World War II.
  • Artist, Dan Medina has unveiled a statue of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. The four foot statue was erected at the site of the devastating crash, where the basketball star, his daughter, and seven others passed two years ago. The base of the statue has an inscription reading “ Heroes come and go, but legends are forever”.  Couldn’t agree more.

In Non Fungible News…

Could you soon be able to leverage say something like your house or a loan with an NFT?! New platforms like PNW and NFTfi offer a unique product of creating contracts that can store collateral in escrow on the blockchain. This concept has been done with physical fine art for ages, but with the growing hype around crypto and NFT it presents us with a brave new world. Interest rates on these loans are no doubt high because of the limited access to liquidity but the default is also high—and often attractive. Many lenders “loan to own,” hoping for a default because they can get a JPEG monkey smoking a cigar at a reduced price.

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Masterworks is a fintech company democratizing the art market. Our investors are able to fractionally invest in $1mn+ works of art by some of the world's most famous and sought-after artists.