The Art Market: it’s up to you, New York

The venerable European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf), held in Maastricht since 1988, has pulled off its first mini-edition for older art in New York, an event that closed on Wednesday. Organisers revamped the Park Avenue Armory to great effect and hosted 94 galleries with pieces from antiquity to the early 20th century. With nearly a third of booths of the Maastricht flagship, Tefaf New York Fall was more digestible and focused (a separate Modern and contemporary version will be launched in May.)

Behind the fair’s success was the effort that dealers had made to bring good-quality items, allaying concerns that recent events such as the Biennale des Antiquaires and Frieze Masters would water down supply. Highlights included a huge 1531 map of the world by Visconte Maggiolo, the earliest known to show New York Harbor (Daniel Crouch, $10m).

Exhibitors were impressed by the number of museum curators at the fair, particularly from the US. “This fair is more accessible to American museums. They have a budget for buying but not necessarily for travelling,” said Jorge Coll, a partner at Colnaghi. His gallery sold $1.2m of works to American buyers, including “Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria” by Renaissance artist Bernardino Zaganelli (active 1494-1519, $400,000) and had two other pieces reserved for US museums. Success at the fair caps off a fine year for Coll and Nicolas Cortés, the Spanish dealers who have injected new life into one of the UK’s oldest galleries.

Other Tefaf sales included Gaspar Van Wittel’s “A view of the Darsena, Naples” (c1700, Robilant & Voena, priced at €1.8m) and Edward Hopper’s “Portrait of Guy Pène du Bois” (c1904, Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts, $1.5m), which sold to a south-western US collector who had flown into New York specifically for Tefaf. The talk of the fair was when CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper took a break from the US election coverage to buy “Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar” (1775) by Anton Raphael Mengs from Otto Naumann for $275,000. The work sold at Christie’s for $62,132 in 2012 and was recently on loan to the Met Breuer’s opening Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible exhibition.

Sales were also being made outside Tefaf as New York’s galleries gear up for November’s auction season. At Acquavella Galleries, a show of new works by Miquel Barceló is already proving popular. The Mallorcan artist has returned to two of his favourite subjects, the sea and bullfighting, to produce deeply coloured works, on the edge of abstraction and with serious wall power. The paintings are priced between $125,000 and $600,000 and sales so far include “Cite” (June 2016). New ceramics works also feature, for between $52,000 and $95,000 (until December 9).

The catalogues for November’s Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary auctions in New York are nearly finalised, with two weeks of sales pushed into one (the week of November 14) to steer clear of the previous week’s US presidential election. Some of the big hitters have already been revealed — Monet’s “Meule (Grainstack)” (1891) at Christie’s (around $45m), which has just been toured to potential buyers in Hong Kong; Edvard Munch’s “Girls on the Bridge” (1902) at Sotheby’s (more than $50m, guaranteed); and at Phillips, Gerhard Richter’s early “Düsenjäger” (1963, $25m-$35m, guaranteed).

Christie’s Postwar and Contemporary art evening sale on November 15 reflects the US state of mind. The opening lot is Jonathan Horowitz’s “Obama ’08” (2008), with 43 hung portraits of US presidents, culminating in Barack Obama, whose image was originally leaned against the wall at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, depending on the outcome of the 2008 election ($100,000-$150,000). Other highlights include Andy Warhol’s 1986 “Statue of Liberty” silkscreen, which sold for $574,500 (with fees) in 2002 and comes back to market with a $3m to $6m estimate (guaranteed).

German artist Isa Genzken is about to have a New York moment. Genzken, an institutional favourite, is being honoured by the not-for-profit Sculpture Center at its annual benefit gala on Wednesday. To coincide, Galerie Buchholz opens a commercial show of about 25 new self-portraits by Genzken at its Manhattan space. The series incorporates collages of photographs of the artist taken by people who include artists Wolfgang Tillmans and Gerhard Richter ($30,000-$200,000).

A 1781 study of a stork by Shaykh Zayn al-Din, (£245,000) © Sotheby’s Back in London, Sotheby’s held a successful auction of a fine group of Indian miniatures and paintings sold by Jaleh Khosrovani-Diba, a Swiss-based Iranian private collector, on October 19. Top lot was a rather racy night scene (around 1820), showing the Hindu god Krishna “consoling” Radha in a forest while an attendant creates a makeshift bed of leaves nearby. The work sold for £290,000 (£353,000 with fees, est £50,000-£80,000). A 1781 study of a stork by Shaykh Zayn al-Din, commissioned by Lady Mary Impey in Calcutta, sold for £200,000 (£245,000 with fees, est £60,000-£80,000). Khosrovani-Diba bought the watercolour from the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1996.

The sale brought a total £2.5m (£3.1m with fees, est £1m-£1.5m).

And finally, the stuff of nightmares … Naked statues of Donald Trump, recently erected by the west coast activist collective Indecline across the US, are on the market. On October 22, Beverly Hills auction house Julien’s sold “The Emperor Has No Balls” (2016) for $22,000, well up on its $10,000 estimate (a portion of the sale proceeds will benefit the National Immigration Forum). Meanwhile, Gray’s Auctioneers in Cleveland, Ohio, sold another version on Wednesday for $3,400, suggesting rapid price deflation. Pontus Silverstope, co-founder of auction aggregator Barneby’s, says “Nudity in art has always fascinated humans. The recent series of portraits of the American presidential campaigner is no exception.”