This Week’s 10 Most Important Art News Stories

Artsy Editorial
Nov 13, 2015 11:34PM

Catch up on the latest art news with our rundown of the 10 stories you need to know this week.


Christie’s New York’s “The Artist’s Muse” sale grossed $491.4 million, leading the 10-day stretch of fall auctions across the major houses, which saw over $2.2 billion worth of art change hands. “The Artist’s Muse” ended within its $442-million-to-$540-million presale estimate, setting five records in the process. Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian bought Modigliani’s Nu Couché (Reclining Nude) (1917-18) for $170.4 million—the second-highest sale price of an artwork at auction. But the sale’s less-than-stellar 71% sell-through rate (and much lower sale total compared to spring’s $705.8 million “Looking Forward to the Past” sale, which also included 34 lots), has given some commentators cause to question whether the house can afford to sustain the no-doubt costly creation of these curated sales. (via Bloomberg, ARTINFO)


Sotheby’s contemporary art evening sale on Wednesday fetched $294.85 million, selling 81.5 percent of lots on offer and beating its low estimate of $254 million. On Monday, the auction house also released its third-quarter results, which show $56 million in commission revenue, 12 percent lower than that of the same quarter last year. In apparent reaction to this decrease, Sotheby’s stock fell by nearly 16 percent, from $34.09 to $28.71, between last Friday and this Wednesday. (via the New York Times)


Christie’s contemporary art auction on Tuesday evening grossed $331.8 million, just above its presale low estimate of $320 million, bringing its two-day total (with Monday’s “The Artist Muse” sale) to $823 million. The figure amounts to a 41 percent decrease compared to two similar sales held at the auction house in May. The top lot of the night, Andy Warhol’s Four Marilyns (1962) fetched $36 million, a notable $2 million less than it fetched just two years ago. (via Bloomberg)


Petr Pavlensky, a Russian artist and activist, was arrested on Monday after setting fire to the entrance of the Federal Security Service building in Moscow for an art performance titled Threat. Pavlensky, whose St. Petersburg performance Freedom (2014) resulted in the artist being tried for vandalism, is best known for having nailed his scrotum to a paver in Red Square during a 2013 performance. Pavlensky was taken into custody for disorderly conduct following Monday’s performance and faces up to three years in prison. (via The Guardian)


In its first auction to mix Modernist and living contemporary artists, Phillips’s “20th Century & Contemporary Art” sale grossed $66.9 million, beating a $64.4 million low estimate. Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XXVIII (1977) was the top lot, selling at $11.4 million, a price reportedly around that of the guarantee Phillips provided to secure the work. Nine of the 51 lots offered failed to sell. (via the New York Times)


Madrid’s International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO Madrid) announced that it would launch an edition of the fair in Lisbon in March of 2016. The Lisbon edition of the fair will feature around 40 international galleries in its inaugural edition. (via ARTnews)


Artist Ulay (real name Frank Uwe Laysiepen) is suing Marina Abramović, accusing his former partner and lover of breaching a contract they both signed in 1999 concerning artwork created collaboratively. After the two performance artists separated in 1988, Ulay sold his physical archive to Abramović, with the understanding that Abramovic could sell the work, but would give a portion of the profits to her former partner. Ulay contends that he has only been paid four times, despite the existing contract. In addition to statements of sales and royalties, he is asking for a “proper mention” of his name in relation to their collaborative works. (via The Guardian)


According to socialite Tracey Hejailan-Amon, her soon-to-be ex-husband Maurice Alain Amon removed their collection of contemporary art from their apartment without her knowledge, taking a Jean-Michel Basquiat work to auction at Christie’s before filing for divorce. Hejailan-Amon has filed suit, though Amon’s lawyers have stated that Hejailan-Amon was aware of plans to remove the works in question.  (via the New York Post)


Independent New York has revealed the exhibitor list for the fair’s 2016 edition, set to run concurrently with The Armory Show during the first week of March. Following the demolition of the former Dia building in Chelsea, the fair will take place in a new location next spring, Spring Studios at 50 Varick Street in TriBeCa. Art Los Angeles Contemporary has also announced its list of 70 exhibitors for its seventh edition, to be held in January of 2016. (via ARTnews)


American designer and artist Maya Lin is one of five who have been awarded Smithsonian’s inaugural Portrait of a Nation Prize. Other awardees include Henry “Hank” Aaron, Corporal Kyle Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, and Carolina Herrera. (via the Smithsonian)

Make your weekend plans with our preview of exhibitions on view in cities across the globe.

Artsy Editorial