Friday, December 6, 2013

High Prices at Art Basel Miami Beach

WSJ reports:
After a blistering season of record-setting auction sales, the world's top collectors are feeling confident as they descend on Miami this weekend for the pre-eminent American fair, Art Basel Miami Beach—and the dealers are pricing their wares to match.

The fair, which closes Sunday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, has been transformed into a vast warren of gallery booths containing pieces that range from $2,000 to $20 million. Some artworks are on offer for double their going rates from a few years ago.

Call it the post-recession premium: In Gagosian Gallery's booth, there's a crinkly, car-size Jeff Koons sculpture, "Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta)," that the gallery won at Sotheby's for $5.4 million four years ago, under its $6 million low estimate. On Wednesday, the gallery put the egg back on the market and sold it for around $9 million[...]

David Zwirner, who now also shows Mr. Koons, also has one of the artist's tabletop sculptures of a blue elephant that reportedly carries a $20 million asking price. Zwirner didn't confirm that price tag, but a sale at that level would rank as the artist's fifth-highest price ever.

Maria Brito, a New York art adviser who buys for hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, said the mood at the fair during Wednesday's VIP preview evoked the feverish feel of 2007, the market's last peak, when collectors had to make on-the-spot shopping decisions or else risk losing their choices to waiting rivals. This year, dealers say they're trying to maintain a measure of calm by letting potential buyers put artworks on reserve—for a few hours or, at most, overnight.

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