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Headlines and Highlights: Week of July 7th

Headlines and Highlights: Week of July 7th
July 7, 2023
Keenan Flack

Lukewarm Reception at Sotheby's Old Masters Sale

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, 'Saint Sebastian tended by two angels' (Credit: Sotheby’s)

The News: Sotheby's recent Old Master sale in London left 35% of the lots unsold. The auction, part of the city's "Classic Week", achieved a sale total of £39.4m, led by a 15th-century painting by the Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, which sold for £7.9m.

Initiative: The evening sale consisted of 49 lots of historical artworks dating back from the 19th century to antiquity. Sotheby’s worldwide co-chairman of Old Masters, Alex Bell, pointed out the high interest rates and inflation may have led to buyers' hesitance and selectivity.

Key Works: The most valued entry was an early Netherlandish panel painting, "Pentecost", by the Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, sold for £7.9m. A piece by Domenico Beccafumi sold for £5.1m. However, some pieces, such as a pair of views of Venice by Canaletto, fell below their low estimate, selling for £2.1m against a low estimate of £3m.

Impact: The trend of unsold works, particularly those priced in the £100,000 to £400,000 range, reflects a significant shift in collecting taste away from historical art. The results from the Sotheby’s auction suggests the focus of interest may now be more on pieces for museum acquisitions rather than private collections. THEARTNEWSPAPER

Iconic Star Wars Props Highlight in Upcoming Azarian Collection Auction

The News: John Azarian, a real estate developer and renowned collector of movie and television props, is set to auction off some of his most prized pieces on July 29 at Heritage. Starting his journey in 1995, Azarian's collection has grown to include significant pieces from film and television, particularly from Star Wars films.

Initiative: Azarian began amassing his collection due to a passion for connecting with the films and shows he cherished as a child. What began as a simple purchase of costumes from the Batman series evolved into a vast assortment of tangible memorabilia, attracting global attention. With his tenure as the custodian of these items winding down, Azarian will now share a select group of his most coveted trophies with the public.

Key Works: The auction features numerous Star Wars props, including an Imperial Stormtrooper helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, Luke Skywalker's Stunt DL-44 Blaster from The Empire Strikes Back, and various iconic lightsabers. Additionally, the collection contains a screen-used Snowspeeder from Carrie Fisher's collection and items from every Star Wars movie franchise. Other notable pieces include the Terminator ensemble worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, a part of the collection originally belonging to Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum.

Impact: Azarian's decision to auction his prized collection highlights the significance of memorabilia for fans and collectors worldwide. While the collector's passion fueled his years of acquiring and preserving these iconic pieces, he now wants others to have the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy them. The auction reflects a broader interest in film and TV memorabilia and underscores their role in preserving cultural history and fostering a deeper connection with the art form. HERITAGE

Collectible Happenings

Ernie Banks' first professional baseball contract, which he signed in 1950 with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, is set to be auctioned by Heritage Auctions' Summer Platinum Night sale. The contract, which carries a $30,000 pre-sale estimate, marked the beginning of Banks' significant career, and he would go on to become the most beloved player in the history of the Chicago Cubs. SPORTSCOLLECTORSDAILY

The Phillips' 20th Century to Now auction in London in June 2023 ended with disappointing results, totaling £9 million ($11.5 million), significantly lower than previous years, fueling concerns of a market correction. While some artists set records, nearly 30% of the lots went below their low estimates, and five lots were withdrawn prior to the sale, including Lucio Fontana’s slashed canvas Concetto spaziale, Attese, the only work with a seven-figure estimate. ARTNET

Yuga Labs, the creator of Bored Apes and other top NFT collections, is working to rekindle interest around its NFTs, despite the lackluster reception of its latest NFT-gated game, HV-MTL Forge. The company's upcoming virtual world project, Otherside, into which fans have invested millions of dollars, represents a significant opportunity to revive interest; however, if unsuccessful, it could discourage entrepreneurs from entering the NFT business. Axios gets into the nitty-gritty of their business and the NFT space on the whole. AXIOS

A ticket stub from the game where LeBron James broke the NBA scoring record is expected to sell for over $5,000 at a Heritage Auctions event next month. The ticket, which originally cost $92 and is from the 2nd row of section 209, was given a Mint 9 grade by PSA and has already attracted bids over $2,000. TMZ

Freeport, a new investment platform, is aiming to simplify the process of investing in tokenized fine art, an emerging form of asset ownership where tokens represent a stake in a physical work of art. Freeport uses the Ethereum blockchain to fractionalize blue-chip art and offers a 3D gallery feature, providing a democratized and accessible avenue for people new to the art market or blockchain technology to invest in stable, high-value art assets. ARTNET

Rapper Nelly has reportedly signed a $50 million deal with HarbourView Equity Partners, selling 50% ownership of his entire music catalog, which includes numerous hit songs and eight albums. Despite this significant sale, Nelly is continuing to make new music, with rumors of another album release in the near future. TMZ

Alan Alda, who played the character Hawkeye in the television series “M-A-S-H,” is auctioning off the combat boots and dog tags he wore during the show's 11-season run. The proceeds from the July 28 auction in Dallas, managed by Heritage Auctions, will support Alda's center dedicated to enhancing communication among scientists and doctors. NBCDFW

Art fractionalisation, where shares in a work of art are sold, is gaining traction in the art market with initiatives like the Artex Stock Exchange, which is offering shares in a Francis Bacon triptych for as little as $100. However, experts caution potential investors to consider various factors including due diligence, provenance research, insurance, and decision-making processes on resale before investing, due to the uncharted nature of this new form of investment. THEARTNEWSPAPER

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