I live my life within an interesting intersection of life passions...
real estate, art, and philanthropy.

I thrive on making creative connections, putting deals together that can help people find what they are looking for and believe they want, while advancing their love of the arts. 

Despite my best efforts sometimes this can turn into a deal and specifically a real estate deal fraught with highs and lows, dips and hairpin turns, where no one gains. Even with a strong desire to control the deal, it can tumble out of control. The lesson learned here is patience and as the saying goes "stay calm and carry on."

Hesiode et la Muse -
Gustave Moreau 1891
Real Art Muse has learned from many Muses along her way.
Combining their strengths and softness with wisdom. According to ancient Greek mythology - a muse is the personification of knowledge and the arts while being a goddess of inspiration. I like to add that a muse is driven to do good deeds. This can be a tall order in modern times, but I still try to live up to this goal. 
There will always be challenges when trying to bring real estate and art together - my more lofty aspiration.

Summer 2013, I was attempting to help an artist, Greg Miller, who I met at his NYC solo show in Soho several 
ago, through my relationship with the California based gallerist Susan Snyder of CaldwellSnyder/Compton Gallery
who represented Gred and still does today. 

Greg Miller had been in touch with me over the years and was planning a visit from his Texas home this past summer specifically with the goal in mind to look at real estate for a possible home/studio in the Hamptons. I was asked by him to to show he and his wife Barbara around and give them the lay of the land. Their last visit was several years before when Greg had rented a home in Montauk which motivated him to come back and consider a Hamptons retreat, where he could work and surf while spending time with his collector friends.

I had spent my summers ever since I was an infant going to the Hamptons with my various parents and for the past 13 years as a part time resident. I combined a keen understanding of the artist's needs and put together a list of suitable properties, in advance of his visit. 
During their visit I set up for them to see my real estate recommendations combined with making some local real estate connections and RealArtMuse hospitality. 
I gave them a sense a thorough overview of what the different hamlets offer focusing on an area called the Springs, which I had recommended. It helped that Greg had also seemed enthusisatic about this idea, so we were both on the same page

The challenge is showing a vast range of properties, within a budget, including land vs. renovated and tear downs homes, while explaining the pros and cons of each property. 
I personally like to mix in some cultural hampton highlights along the way. 
Especially in this case since their is so much history and still is, an artist's haven. 

Recently I visited the old James Brooks and Christine Park home on a 11 acres, which was purchased by the town of East Hampton preservation fund.  Many of the homes that DeKooning, Motherwell, and Pollack lived in still exist and in the case of the Pollack Krasner House can be visited. In addition, many famous living artists live and love the Hampton's such as Cindy Sherman's with her home and artist studio in the Springs - EastHampton, NY

My game plan was to make contacts with local south fork real estate agents in order for us to tap into their local expertise and to form up a collaborative effort - the best way to cover all bases. Normally compensation for this type of joint effort is a shared sales commission, a co-broke or a % referral arrangement, depending on the agency and the relationship, and the work involved.

Greg Miller's paint and collage on canvass, "Dependable"
The dynamics of this particular deal did not work out as smoothly as I had planned. One of the local brokers I introduced the Millers to and who was not acting exclusively for them reinserted himself after I already negotiated a deal and got an accepted offer by Sothebys, who represented the seller of the property. 
The broker I introduced the Miller's to decided and convinced the client that he was their broker on the deal and he decided that I deserved less then what I was due. When the client decided it was best to work with the broker who I introduced them to after the home was already negotiated by me, I realized that my hands were tied.
The title of the artist's artwork "Dependable" was an omen of what was an unexpected turn for the worse. On the other hand in a real estate and in an art deal...I take great pride in being "Dependable"! So, my advise was to stay calm and carry on and hire a sensible lawyer. 
I hired a local lawyer in the Hamptons, Theresa Quigley and with her voice of reason while weighing my legal options gave me insight and a game plan. 
Once a lawyer is involved it usually means trouble. I hired Theresa to avoid legal action. The real estate and art world have a great deal of misunderstandings. I usually recommend an arbitrator who can weigh in on both sides and make a final decision. Teresa was good at guiding me through the process and making sure my name was on the commission agreement. With the help of Rylan Jacka of Sotheby's, who represented the seller, my name was on the contract for sale which I negotiated on behalf of the Miller's new home on Talmage Road in the Springs, East Hampton

Despite my contacts, expertise and the extensive time spent to develop a relationship, there is always a chance this deal would not have closed, and that is where being a realartmuse came into play. My goal even with the unfortunate turn of events was to get the Miller's what they had seemed to want and come to a successful close. 
I had faced the prospect of getting nothing for my contact and contributions. 

In the end, after some intense weeks of negotiation, I decided it was best to take less then what I deserved. I settled on a lesser commission, in order that everyone could be a winner and the Miller's got their prize.
Everyday there are twists of fate. Sometimes it is not worth the fight. 
Right or wrong is inconsequential since all parties; the seller, buyer and the brokers think they were right. A recent well known artist muse by the name 
Baby Jane Holzer, got into a commission conflict.

I believe a real estate deal and and with an art deal, it is a journey and the destination is resolving the conflicts amicably so both sides Win.
In this case this case, the prize was a lovely home in the Springs on an acre with enough room to build a sizeable art studio in order to create art for art lovers.

I realized my goal when the deal was signed just before Thanksgiving. Less then 3 months prior to showing them the home, they now own it.

After a recent chat with the Judge Burke of Southampton, who represented the buyer, he shared his wisdom as a lawyer and a judge. "People need to know when to let go and stop fighting - something is better then nothing." One good turn might not have ended up working 100% in my favor. However, I settled for 33%. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art for the free and the brave
A year ago even the likes of the reputable Metropolitan Museum with a mission statement written back in 1893 had to fight a lawsuit, which exemplifies how 
the Metropolitan Museum  
can be considered to be shortsighted but not greedy. 
After months of negotiations, the wise Judge Kornreich (who I have experienced in court) 
reminded the storied institution when they signed a lease with the city in 1878 that the admission was free 5 days a week, and the intent of the 1893 law which gave the Met State support was so "Admission is defacto free for all." A penny is now accepted, however their is a “recommended or suggested fee" of $11-$25  for adults. By the way, the MOMA charges $25 for adults, except for free Friday nights, so the MET is actually a bargain

The lesson I learned this year is always be true to your calling in life, however to be equally careful of others who may not be as fair minded or honest in their business conduct. Take the high road whenever possible; the view is better.

The good news is as of November 2013, the artist closed on his house in the Springs and the lawyer sent me a check. I can rest assure that I made this deal happen by pulling all the people together, negotiating fairly and moving quickly and adeptly, while letting everyone believe they had their way.

Opening Event at the Salon Art + Design Show
1.Vernissage - defined as a great opening party.
The Salon Art + Design Show in NYC at the Park Avenue Armory earlier this month was a civilized and elegant affair after a few weeks of NYC auction art frenzy.
With Sylvia Panijal Chavillat & Picasso 

2.Great Art: Works that have rarely or possibly never been shown before. Art Fairs should be like a well produced fashion show, always with a new collection. There are enough artists out there to support this premise. 

3. Unique / Special Venue: In a good location or a creative and interesting space that draws people in. 

4. Well Curated Booth: Which reflects the local cultural and global issues. A well thought out booth that can tell a story or refers to the artists behind the work. 

5. Branding: Viewers should be able to identify with the show and take something away from it instead of being overly conceptual and out there, unless the later objective is to be far reaching. Then it is a show where the focus is not on selling art... begging the question "How does that help the artist?"
Waterhouse & Dodd salon at
The Salon: Art + Design Show.

An excellent example of a beautifully curated show (vs. fair) was the Salon Arts + Design Show held at the 
Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It featured 53 leading international galleries, showing coveted works of art, 20th century and contemporary design, decorative arts, antiques and ethnographic art.The exhibitor vetting process is taken seriously by the show's review committee.

The attendees reflected a local and International mix judging by the artsy yet elegant crowd who attended the opening VIP event which included yummy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails hosted by Architectural Digest. Visitors were able to take away a handsomely produced program, view a well executed website and even use their smart phones with the Artsy app to get information about various exhibits and pricing in real time during the course of the four day art fair.


Admiring the work of Klaus Enrique
 at the Art Hamptons show in front of Rob Tucker's  
 mixed media ship work - oil / resin on board.
1. Overcrowded: With art and people, and narrow corridors / poorly designed booths that limit access to the artwork.

2. Overdone / Repetitive: Featuring the same artists that are seen everywhere and often. 

3. Confusing Content: An over emphasis on performance and installation art that can be difficult to relate to, or artwork that is simply too large to fit into most homes, forget about a NYC apartment.

Overwhelmingly conceptual trying too hard to be different and off-beat, which can frustrate the viewer who is unable to relate to the artwork. 

4. Timing: Too many fairs going at the same time - making it an overwhelming and exhausting experience.

5. Results:  It's a bad show when few attendees buy the art!

Sara - owner of Sara Nightingale Gallery,
Watermill, NY at ArtMRKT with 

"A Mirror to Nature" 2013 by Cara Enteles.
Some art fair organizers believe that healthy competition is good - but how much is too much?

Two contemporary art fairs were held on the same weekend last summer in Bridgehampton, NY - the artMRKT Hamptons and ArtHamptons shows.

The former with 40 exhibitors was held at the Bridgehampton Historical Center grounds in the center of the village, right at the Hampton Jitney stop. 

ArtMRKT Hamptons made a valiant attempt to entertain the guests with unusual music, performances and creatively dressed waitstaff; along with a wide array of gourmet food trucks from the five boroughs.

Rebecca, owner of Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery at
Art Hamptons.
ArtHamptons was held north of Bridgehamton on the 95 acre Sculpture Fields of Nova's Ark
with 78 galleries, with seemingly endless aisles and some booths featured just too much inventory.

Art Hamptons seemed to be focused on many social events -including a party celebrating the accomplishments of three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and three Tony awards Edward Albee.

Both shows offered collectors a great chance to talk to exhibiting artists, gallery owners and other collectors.

I visited one of my favorites - The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery - where I have collected from in the past. I have even gone as far as to visit her two galleries in London, and now it is easier to drop in on the gallery since they now have a location at 262 Mott Street in NYC. I've bought two pieces from Rebecca including a work by Kate Jenkins. Rececca is one of the hardest working gallery owners I know - who exhibited at both Art Hamptons and Art Southampton - the third and last local art fair this past summer.

With the legendary artist Faith Ringgold with her
ACA Galleries representative.
One of my highlights of the Art Hamptons fair was the opportunity to meet and talk with painter / sculptor / writer / activist Faith Ringgold who was recognized with the show's 2013 Artist Lifetime Achievement Honor.

Faith is well known for her painted story quilts, which blur the line between "high art" and "craft" by combining painting, quilted fabric and storytelling - dating back to the 1960s. She is a native of Harlem, and is a professor emeritus of the UC San Diego visual arts department.

Doeringer's Mobile Art Fair.
An interesting contrarian is Eric Doeringer, an artist who does "Guerrilla Art Fairs" out of the back of his car, featuring art re-creations from the 1960s-80s including knock-offs of Richard Prince and Andy Warhol and unauthorized bootleg works from over 100 different contemporary artists. Eric has a sense of humor about his work, and finds great locations!

At a recent ATOA (Artist Talk on Art) forum on art fairs/shows with a panel run by Michael Sellinger - he commented that art show exhibitors are going to pay a minimum of $50/sq. ft. at the more reasonably priced art fairs. I mentioned the NYC Affordable Art Fair as a good choice for galleries since the cost to do business starts at a more reasonable rate of 
of $10-20,000 for a booth for a 3-5 day event.(Not including travel, food, employees,etc.)

Because of the expense involved, gallery owners need to be very focused on the choice of art they bring to the show and how they display it. They need to appeal to both their existing client base of collectors, the new emerging collector segment and institutions if they are going to make art shows / fairs a viable business proposition.

I am off to the Art Basel Miami Beach show on December 2nd in order to fit in the official 22 (and counting) satellite art fairs. 

In order to keep your social calendars organized I recommend the paper mag blog and the Art-Collecting.com Miami Beach Art Fair Guide 2013 .

If you can pull it off to go to the pre-openings - such as Art Basel Vernissage at the Miami Beach Convention Center, for great people watching as well as an international collection of multi-million dollar branded art.

I will be seeking new artists for my personal collection and my building art curation program in commercial spaces here in NYC, as well as meeting with galleries/artist looking for commercial space in New York City.


I'm looking forward to my "art-hangover" cure of fried chicken and waffles at
 "Tongue and Cheek" in the sofi district in Miami.

Join me for my cure, share yours or let's look at art together in Miami.

I can be reached at cindy@realartmuse.com
ABCs, 1,2,3...When were you last compelled to help?

Young actor Caleb James just shared with me that he spent Thanksgiving day working in a soup kitchen. For some helping those in need can be simply serving meals and for others it can be enlisting the help of their professional friends and associates...

I was headed downtown to Washington Street to meet with pop-up gallery owner Ellie Rines and her art posse at Tortilla Flats, to celebrate the opening of her Todd Eberle show and to have some fun, which we did. Little did I know that on my way I would discover a cause near and dear to me: children, art and education.

By chance I decided to follow a tall, dark and strikingly beautiful woman into a mysterious funky space right off the street: Industria Studios. Only in New York City can one discover by happenstance a great opportunity to chill out with glamorous people, enjoy art and support a great cause!

Once inside I found an attractive and surprisingly down to earth and a warm group of creatives who rallied behind a worthy cause: The Costa Verde International School  (CVIS) located in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico. 

This evening came together because of Anne Menke and her close circle of friends who are ready, willing and able to donate and buy photography. Everyone there seemed to care about the cause, and they having a relaxing and fun time while doing so!

Event hostess Eugenia Silva welcoming supporters.

I did a slow loop around the space, which was filled with art, fashion and miscellaneous auction items all to benefit the CVIS school. The first person I met was Angelika Saint-Aignan. She is the studio manager for CVIS co-founder and fashion photographer Anne Menke. 

Angelika introduced me to the event's host Spanish model  Eugenia Silva and then Anne Menke (CVIS co-founded with husband Johann Ackerman). 

Anne told me about the benefit and how 100% of the funds raised go directly to the scholarship program.  I could think of quite a few not-for-profits who could learn a 
lesson from CVIS.

CVIS supporter and Supermodel
Helena Christensen.
"Our friends and industry partners come and support us!" exclaimed Anne. Among the guests was a long time supporter and regular, supermodel Helena Christensen, SELF Magazine Fashion Director Evyan Metzner, One PR Studio owner and a host of fashion photographers, stylists, creative directors and collectors.

Anne made sure I knew about her "unsung hero" when she called me from Mexico - "Without Angelika this benefit could never have happened, she works so hard to pull it off."

I was curious to learn more and be supportive so I started by buying a "wishing tree" necklace that is made in Mexico and it comes with a little description of the school: "providing a high quality progressive education for the children of Sayulita, MX."
Anne Menke, Michelle Buswell,
Angelika Saint-Aignan and supporters.

The CVIS school is located 2600 miles southwest of NYC in Sayulita - on the Pacific Ocean just west of Guadalajara. It serves pre-school through 6th grade students, and three grades of secondario  (7th-9th). A high school is in the planning phase.

70% of the students are from Mexico with the balance being expats (including Anne Menke's children) and 45% of the students are on scholarships.

CVIS is the only bilingual, green school in the area and one of a few in the entire country of Mexico. The scholarship program provides increased access to local children who are in need of financial assistance. It helps create a more diverse student population and more complete learning environment.
CVIS Students in Sayulita, Mexico, at work and play.
According to Menke "The school is located in a charming coastal town where the kids can play, bond with each other and become one with nature. They swim, surf, paint, draw and enjoy the natural beauty with good friends all around them." 

Mick Rock's iconic 1972
shot of rocker Iggy Pop.

British rock and roll photographer Mick Rock is an example of one of the many photographers / artists who supported this event by donating work for the auction. 

His photograph of Iggy Pop, the "godfather of punk rock" was offered at a starting bid of $550 and sold for  $1250 in support of this most worthwhile cause. 

Anne donated a print of cover photo of her new book "See the World Beautiful" which was identical to the print she had recently donated to the "Today is the Day" Foundation. At that event another art supporter we've featured on this blog, Joseph Mizzi, bought the print.

I was also involved with this event and reported about it on a previous blog post about the "Today is the Day" Foundation. That event was another focused on art therapy programs to help kids, in this case young victims of the radiation leaks caused by the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster.

The CVIS event was yet another example of artists rallying to help kids get what they need, in this case a first class education in a poverty stricken area, a far cry from the the public and even more so from the private schools of NYC,NY.

How Can You Lend a Helping Hand?
I am happy to help you find your cause!
Please Comment directly on my blog, on Facebook or email me at cindy@realartmuse.com
"TODAY IS THE DAY" that you can help to save the children of Fukushima, Japan who are suffering from exposure to nuclear radiation fall-out by donating money to the TITD foundation, buying art at the Paddle 8 online auction or by attending the event on 11/24/13.

I am consulting for partnerships, and acting as a connector and coordinator for this event. I first learned of this charity when I was invited to a pre-benefit cocktail party at the Sciame corporate offices (Wall St.) of art collector and acquaintance, Joseph Mizzi.

Fukushima I Nuclear Reactor Spewing Radioactive Steam.
On March 11, 2012 Fukushima, Japan awoke to a day that would change it forever. 
The Tohoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami with a 40 meter high surge caused catastrophic equipment damage at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. These equipment failures lead to loss-of-coolant followed by nuclear meltdowns, and release of radioactive materials beginning the following day.

The accident created the need for 300,000 people to be evacuated from the area. A subsequent screening program found that more than a third of children in the Fukushima Prefecture have abnormal growth in their thyroid glands, and as of August 2013 forty children have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and other cancers. To minimize the risk of radiation exposure, children of Fukushima are not allowed to play outdoors. Even as recently as this week the Guardian newspaper in the UK reported that the clean up may take another 40 years.

When I first met Noritosh Hirakawa he explained to me in his calm demeanor how important this is to him. "I started the foundation to save the children of Fukushima from the effects radiation."

Fukushima Children with Radiation Testing Kits.
 "Today is the Day"  is a foundation that is raising funds for an art therapy program for the children of Fukushima suffering from radiation exposure from the nuclear disaster.  Noritoshi Hirakawa is the creative director and local founder, besides being a world renowned Japanese contemporary artist, film maker and producer. He was born in Fukuoka, Japan and made his home in New York City in 1993.

Activist and artist 
Noritoshi Hirakawa

Art therapy is currently not recognized in Fukushima. As a result Hirakawa sought out acknowledged experts in the field and found highly regarded art therapists in the UK, specifically the British Association of Art Therapists.

As a result The Yangdaora art therapy project for the children of Fukushima was created. It offers a residential art therapy retreat for the kids in Singapore. Evacuation from the contaminated land is essential for those children to lead a healthy life, but many families are struggling to do so because they lack financial and emotional resources.

Auction item from Kiki Smith
 "Looking West I" 2012

The TDID benefit will feature artists including Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Kiki Smith and Luc Tuymans; and art lover and supporter Rohan Marley will attend with his art posse. Other committee members include artist Lawrence Weiner and Dr. Eric Braverman MD as the subjects of health / wellness and children are a priority in their lives. Dr. Braverman recenty interviewed Noritoshi on his 77 WABC radio talk show Sundays at noon.

Funds raised will support different programs (in addition to art therapy) to help reduce stress, with symptoms that include depression and obesity, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the inner strength of the children.

This is a bold opportunity to connect with the people of the Fukushima and raise awareness of their devastating situation, and provide enough support for relocations and recovery services before it is too late.

All children need a healthy outlet, be it through art, a nutritional diet and physical fitness, in order to let off steam and find a way to express their hopes, dreams and fears.

Please share below under "comments" any suggestions you may have for this project and let me know if you would care to get involved or help. Thank You! 

Musing with Doug Argue at the
 Guggenheim's Christopher Wool show. 

When did you last have a chance encounter that lead to a rediscovery and a winning day?

  1. I recently had one following a fitness class on the Upper East Side. I ran into Michelle Edelman, whom I did not recognize at first glance. She asked, “Do I know you?” and indeed I did. Michelle shared a common frustration of many New Yorkers---trying to find enough time to simply work out. Happy in the fact that we had both accomplished that, she invited me to an upcoming opening at The Edelman Arts Gallery featuring artist Doug Argue.
I gladly accepted the invitation and mentioned my NYC Building Art Curation program. She and her husband share a similar interest in helping emerging artists. They have been actively supporting artists with great promise, who may already have gallery representation, but could benefit from further collaborative partnerships and broader exposure.

A current example of the Edelmans' efforts to promote artists is reflected in a collaboration with the Durst Organization at One World Trade CenterA joint development project of the Durst Organization and the Port Authority. The 1,776-foot tall tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with three million square feet of office space. (There is still space available at $75/rsf.) 

As a philanthropic, family-owned company that actively supports the arts, the Durst Organization are working with the Edelmans to create an on-site "gallery" to display contemporary artwork in the main lobby of the building and in the 63rd floor conference space. 

Doug Argue in front of "Genesis," a work 
proudly owned by the Edelmans.

As I stepped off the elevator to join the Edelmans' for lunch at their East Side townhouse - I had a nearly cosmic spatial experience as my eyes were accosted by "Genesis" Argue's painting appeared to nearly burst from the room and reach right through the double-height ceiling! It turns out the Edelmans were not only showing Doug's work at their gallery but throughout their home--they are active collectors of his work as well as friends.

When I visited the Edelman Arts gallery opening, I was pleasantly surprised to find the art of Doug Argue. I had first encountered him while taking a group to see a show being curated by a real estate client Cynthia Reeves (for whom I was helping look for pop-up gallery space) at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. En route, I passed by Doug Argue's studio where he was intensely preparing for his upcoming show with The Haunch of Venison Gallery, NYC. Since closed as Christie's decided owning a gallery was conflicted, actually I believe their clients helped make their mind up.

Over lunch, we discussed the importance of supporting emerging artists, and they kindly offered to help supply artwork for my NYC Building Art Curation program. I work with landlords who are open to showing art in their lobbies and common areas and working with corporate tenants looking to buy or consign artwork for their office space.

Michelle and Asher Edelman of the Edelman Arts Gallery
as exhibitors at Art Southampton Fair 2013.

Sitting in the dainty lunch dining area with the illustrious Asher Edelman, it was fun to imagine how he might have inspired the character Gordon Gekko. According to Stanley Weiser, the screen writer of Oliver Stone's "Wall Street", who changed the movie script so that Gekko collected art after seeing Edelman's art-filled apartment in a magazine back in the 1980s. It's reported (but I forgot to confirm) that Stone and Michael Douglas actually did shadow Edelman at work while preparing for the film. Asher did comment on how he agreed- as an art financier - that the high-end art market reflects the financial markets and that it is "becoming inflated and lacking transparency" as evidenced by the recent auctions at Chrisie's and Sotheby's.

However, the man I spent time with could not have been further from the ruthless Wall Street tycoon portrayed in "Wall Street". He was extremely gracious and interested along with Michelle, who offered numerous creative and business suggestions on how to advance my effort to get art into Manhattan office buildings.

As we sipped green tea he told me that his efforts to place art in places like One World Trade Center "would never be a money maker for me" but gave him great pleasure in terms of helping expose more people to art in public places, that is just not "branded art."
Sigerfjord, Sortland - Norway

Michelle recounted a charming story about the thriving and talented artistic community in Sortlanda town in the northern part of her native Norway she recently visited. There is an outdoor art project that is literally "painting the town blue." Seems the love of art has no geographic boundaries.

My Doug Argue work-on-paper numbered 39/100

After lunch, I walked through the art gallery again, admiring Doug Argue's Works on Paper. Asher popped in and said, "How would you like to own one?" My eyes lit up as he pulled one out of the draw and made a notation in the ledger as he asked for my card.

As he handed me Doug Argue's print number 39/100, I smiled and commented “why that’s almost half of 69” with some deliberate double meaning. Asher - still the astute former Wall Street professional pointed out the error of my mathematical calculation while appreciating my humor.

He went on to recount a story that his late wise grandfather had told him about 
“the birds and the bees” eluding to men “...women really just want the same things we want” – while Doug Argue’s work is neither overtly masculine nor feminine, I still will read between the lines and enjoy the explosive energy his work conveys. 

Now, I ask you, how might you turn a chance meeting into a future opportunity?
Christie's Impressionist & Modern Art
11/5/13 Evening Sale Big Catalogue
As I previewed the fall art auction scene this past weekend - which kicked-off at the major NYC auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s,  I am always curious about the NYC pre-auction energy, since it is a good indicator of how well the sales could go and whether the art market is as robust as the media makes it out to be.

The first events of the fall season were held in Europe last month. Reports from the Frieze fairs held in Regent's Park in London came back with a split-decision. The 11th season of the Frieze fair with more contemporary and modern art delivered lackluster results, while the two-year-old "Frieze Masters" did quite well. Over 75,000 people were reported to have visited Frieze. 

Seems as if Frieze has successfully transplanted to NYC, already attracting 45,000 people in their second season held May 2013 on Randall's Island.

On the other side of the English Channel it was "game on" with 73,500 attending the FIAC Art Fair (40th edition of Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) in Paris. Sources reported significant growth and expansion, balancing time honored quality and expertise. My verdict on the state of the art market bubble is still out, as we are entering the art auction season.

With Joe Moinian at the
Christie's Evening Sale 11/5/13.
Sales of $ 92.5 million at Christie's Monday night auction is one indicator of a healthy art market. However the NY Times reported that Christie's Tuesday night sales produced "lackluster bidding as a result of high prices and middling quality" - 11 of the 46 works failed to sell. Watching the event live looked like Christie's threw some big numbers down field which resulted in incomplete passes. This disappointing game happened despite the record breaking sale of Giacometti's "Diego en chemise ecossaise" for $32.6 million including fees. 

Across town is where the action moved to Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art auction, with as predicted halftime adjustments being made to their game plan. NY gallery owner and private dealer, Ezra Chowaiki  mentioned to me that there would "likely be significant downward movement in their pricing guarantees." A smart yet defensive move after what I observed as a less-than-enthusiastic reaction from the murmuring crowd at Christie's.

Picasso's "Claude et Paloma"
sold for $ 28.2 million
My question is "who is ultimately responsible for the success of an auction house?"

While Sotheby's Chairman William Ruprecht is widely admired and respected by the art world he has come under withering attacks over the past year from dissident Sotheby's shareholder and hedge fund manager Dan Loeb.

By most accounts Ruprecht appears to be on top of his game having working his way up in the organization ultimately being appointed President / CEO in 2000, then Chairman in 2012. Their stock has risen three-fold since he became CEO. 

Loeb on the other hand is a street fighter, with limited managerial experience and a long track record of taking stakes in companies in order to force changes in their leadership. After taking a 9.3% stake in the storied auction house this fall, Loeb is now Sotheby's largest single shareholder.

Sotheby's looks to the Futur!
Giocomo Balla's "Automobile in corsa"
sold for $ 11.5 million.
Loeb swooped down like a vulture attacking Ruprecht in a letter last month focusing on the firm's “deteriorating competitive position relative to Christie's." Additionally, he cited the firm’s lack of attention to the growth of the contemporary art market and the Chairman's excessive pay package.

The most telling rebuff of Loeb's attack is the stellar results of the Sotheby's auction last night. Sales totaled $290.2 million, not too far from the high end estimate of $308 million. It was reported that the collectors and dealer talking after the auction were much more positive than just 24 hours before. 

You can judge for yourself how this feud is unfolding, 
with a somewhat obvious goal of Loeb - to enhance his own position as a contemporary art collector.

Joe Nahmad and Peter Marino
holding hands in front of

Lichtenstein's "Seductive Girl"

At the Sotheby's auction preview I was speaking to the next generation contemporary art gallery owner Joe Nahmad who was inviting  Peter Marino to his Richard Prince opening this coming Sunday 11/10/13 at Nahmad Contemporary Gallery. Dad, David Nahmad is now the proud new owner of the Picasso "Mousquetaire a la pipe" (1969) for $30.9 million with fees.

Lichtenstein's "Seductive Girl" 1996
These auctions are meant exclusively for those collectors of significant economic means. When I called to reserve my tickets with Christie’s and get a paddle for the evening sale earlier this week – they wanted to update my financial profile in order to allow me to bid at the auction. The Service Representative kindly reminded me of the auction registration parameters, including the need to have a minimum of $500,000 in one's bank account in order to bid. 

Auction season is in full swing for the serious buyers... not meant to be a spectator event, nor for the faint at heart or wallet size!

Real Art Muse looks forward to your comments.




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