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Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 2nd

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 2nd
February 2, 2024
Keenan Flack

Big Week of Sotheby’s News


Sotheby's announced its 2023 sales totaled an impressive $7.9 billion, nearly matching its record figure from the previous year despite a slower art market pace. This achievement was bolstered by a robust luxury auction sector and an increase in private sales, with notable sales including Pablo Picasso’s "Femme à la montre" fetching $139.4 million and Gustav Klimt's "Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan)" selling for $108.5 million. The auction house also highlighted its success in single-owner auctions, contributing significantly to its annual sales. Looking forward, Sotheby's is set to expand its physical presence with new spaces in Hong Kong and Paris, and a move to the iconic Breuer building in Manhattan. ARTNET

In addition to its sales achievements, Sotheby's has undertaken a significant overhaul of its auction fee structure. Here is a breakdown of the changes that will take effect on May 20th:

  • Reduction of Buyer's Fees: Sotheby's has reduced the fees for buyers by 26% on most lots. The new model stipulates that buyers will pay 20% of the hammer price up to and including $6 million, and 10% for the portion of the price above US$6 million. This is a departure from the previous tiered fee structure where buyers paid a composite fee based on several value thresholds within the hammer price.
  • Simplification of Seller's Fees: Seller's fees have been made fixed and unambiguous for most lots, moving away from the previous system of bespoke, negotiated fees. The new structure includes a commission of 10% of the hammer price to sellers for consignments valued at a low estimate of $5 million or less, subject to a minimum of $500 a lot and a maximum of $50,000. For consignments between $5 and $20 million, the commission is waived. If valued at $20 up to $50 million, the commission is waived, and 40% of the buyer’s premium is paid to the seller. For works valued at more than $50 million, the commission is to be determined.
  • Elimination of Overhead Premium: The 1% administrative fee on all sales, known as an "overhead premium," has been removed.
  • Introduction of Performance Fee: For any lot that sells above a high estimate, Sotheby’s receives a 2% performance fee from the seller. Additionally, if an artwork is guaranteed by the auction house or a third party, Sotheby’s will charge the seller a fixed guarantee commitment fee of 4% of the guarantee amount. BARRONS

In non-corporate communications news, it was announced this week that a New York federal jury cleared the house of all allegations made by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rbolovlev. He accused Sotheby’s of defrauding him in art sales worth tens of millions of dollars. Sotheby’s argued that it properly adhered to all legal and industry standards when dealing with the billionaire, and were not aware of Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier’s backroom dealings. ARTSY

Rounding out a week of news from the house, Michael Jordan’s six championship game-worn shoes, known as ‘The Dynasty Collection’, just sold for  $8,032,800 closing out a big week of news for the house. SOTHEBYS

Collectible Happenings

Rally road shareholders vote to sell their fractionally-owned ’79 Topps Wayne Gretzky rookie card for $920,000. Netting a +10.55% return since IPO and a +16.22% return from the last trade. RALLY

Heritage’s Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction includes a set of 16 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Wax cases. Current bid is set at $1,575,000, imputing a value of just under $100,000 per box. Check out this video from Heritage explaining the unique backstory of this lot.   HERITAGE

Speaking of video, here is another one. “The Hobby” is a documentary set to release on February 16th. TWITTER

Two footballs thrown by Tom Brady during Super Bowl XLIX for touchdown passes are being auctioned by Gotta Have Rock and Roll, with the two estimated by the house at $1 to $1.5 million; although, Altan’s very own Bradley Calleja thinks otherwise. These pieces from the Patriots' victory over the Seahawks highlight Brady's record-setting performances and are accompanied by authentication, including a letter from Danny Amendola for one of the balls. GHRR 

MeiGray has launched its own NBA game-worn jersey auctions, starting with Los Angeles Lakers Classic Edition jerseys from the 2022-23 season, despite the NBA's partnership with Sotheby’s for NBA Auctions. The auctions will feature game-worn and game-issued jerseys, including those from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, with future events to include Golden State Warriors jerseys and selections from MeiGray's individual team deals. SCDAILY      MEIGRAY

A ‘1983 Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘59 Reissue’ sold for £592,200, outstripping the low estimate by 59x. The instrument was sold as part of Mark Knopfler’s collection at Christie’s. CHRISTIES

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