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Headlines and Highlights: Week of June 2nd

Headlines and Highlights: Week of June 2nd
June 2, 2023
Keenan Flack

Francis Bacon Triptych Set for €50 million July IPO

Philip Toscano/Getty

Coming Soon: Artex MTF AG, a Liechtenstein-based platform, is gearing up to offer shares of Francis Bacon triptych, 'Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer', for $100 each. Currently valued at $55 million, the work depicts three portraits of Bacon’s lover George Dyer.

About the Artwork: The triptych, which fetched almost $52 million at auction in 2017, is one of the five Dyer portrait triptychs made by Bacon between 1963 and 1969. The 2017 price highlights the worth of intact Bacon triptychs, where selling them as a set typically commands a premium surpassing the individual values when held separately.

Background: Bacon's work has enjoyed a robust market in recent history. The artist is respected as one of the greats of the 20th century; numerous prestigious museum exhibits, including a 2009 retrospective at Tate Britain in London, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York have all contributed to the confirmation of Bacon into the annals of art history. His auction record was set in 2013 for the sale of Three Studies of Lucian Freud at $142,405,000; a gargantuan, six-foot tall canvas depicting the painter’s british rival. Definitely the greatest triptych of the last century (biased).

The Bottom Line: Bacon’s market has cooled since the record setting 2013 sale. 2020 saw Sotheby’s sell a similar size triptych for markedly less at $84,550,000. Investors will have to decide for themselves if a far smaller Bacon triptych is investable at $55 million. BLOOMBERG

Whitney Museum Sells Breuer Building to Sotheby’s for About $100 Million

Christina Horsten/picture alliance, Getty Images

Confirmed News: Sotheby's has announced the purchase of the iconic 1966 Brutalist building by Marcel Breuer, previously owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art. The purchase price remains undisclosed, but sources estimate it to be around $100 million. Sotheby's will relocate its headquarters to this Madison Avenue building from York Avenue in 2025.

The Building: Recognized as a masterpiece of modern architecture, the Breuer building represents a significant asset for Sotheby's. CEO Charles F. Stewart described it as "a once in a lifetime opportunity," particularly ideal for their client base due to its proximity to museum row. The area is populated by countless galleries and museums including The Guggenheim, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the Acquavella and Gagosian galleries.

What It Means for Sotheby’s: For Sotheby’s, this acquisition signifies a homecoming of sorts, as the auction house once occupied the Parke-Bernet Galleries across Madison Avenue. The move also situates Sotheby's closer to the heart of the Upper East Side art world and will likely increase foot traffic to its exhibitions and pre-auction previews.

The Bottom Line: Sotheby's acquisition of the Breuer building signals a major shift for the renowned auction house, both in terms of location and symbolic return to its roots. How this move will influence its operation and standing in the art world remains to be seen. Though the market for buyers of museum buildings is not large, it is an optimistic sign for the space that players are willing to spend big even with current economic uncertainty. NYTIMES

Tom Petty Family ‘Pursuing Legal Action’ Over Allegedly Stolen Property


Confirmed News: The family of the late rock legend Tom Petty has accused the Boston-based RR Auction of dealing in stolen property. Announcing on Wednesday, they stated they will pursue "swift legal action" against the auction house.

The Allegation: The Petty estate claims that items allegedly stolen from a secure archive are being auctioned. These items include some of Petty’s clothes, autographed items, and limited editions, which can reportedly be traced back to family members. RR Auction has not disclosed the consigner or how these items were acquired.

The Auction House Response: RR Auction's attorney, Mark Zaid, states that the company has cooperated with the Petty family and will continue to do so. They're currently investigating the situation and have asked for the Petty family's cooperation as well. Zaid adds that they take defamatory allegations against their company seriously. They have temporarily withdrawn the disputed lots until the situation is resolved.

The Bottom Line: The Petty family seeks the safe return of the allegedly stolen items, highlighting their sentimental and educational value to Tom Petty's legacy. RR Auction seems confident in their ability to quell the situation, we will see how the situation develops with regard to the provenance of the lots. ROLLINGSTONE

Collectible Happenings:

Gemrate published their monthly numbers on card grading. Overall grading declined 14% month/month, but rose 2% on the year. PSA is still the top dog at just over one million cards graded in the month. GEMRATE

Panini America and Fanatics have agreed to a temporary restraining order (TRO) until a trial begins on April 8, 2024, in Panini's lawsuit against seven former employees and Fanatics, alleging that Fanatics hired its top employees to gain access to trade secrets. The court order prohibits the former Panini employees from using or disclosing confidential information and requires them to preserve all relevant evidence. SPORTSCOLLECTORSDAILY

Universal Music Group is reportedly in discussions to purchase Queen's music catalog from Disney for over $1 billion, reflecting the booming music deals industry. Despite Disney denying plans to sell the catalog, the rumor underscores the upward trend in music deal valuations, driven by an expanding universe of buyers and sellers, an increased number of licensees and performance royalties, and rising royalty rates. AXIOS

DraftKings Marketplace will introduce physical trading cards, including a set featuring rookie cards of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, through a series of four auctions starting May 8, 2023. Each auction offers six tickets correlating with the user’s break and pack order, with a minimum bid of $100 for each ticket. DRAFTKINGS

Collectors, the parent company of PSA, has laid off 11 employees, including several members of the marketing staff, as part of "strategic organizational changes," although none of the cuts affected the grading and authentication teams. The layoffs come amidst rumors that Collectors is cutting expenses in preparation for a possible sale, similar to the recent actions by PWCC Marketplace prior to its acquisition by Fanatics. SPORTSCOLLECTORSDAILY

Climate activists Timothy Martin and Joanna Smith have been indicted by a federal grand jury for smearing paint on the glass case holding a Degas sculpture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to draw attention to the climate crisis. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. ARTNEWS

Urban explorers find millions of hockey and baseball cards in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit, Michigan. TWITTER

StockX has announced a revamped seller program set to launch in July, featuring reduced fees and new perks for sellers meeting certain thresholds. First-time sellers will now have a fee of 9%, the lowest among competitors, and the most active sellers can enjoy fees as low as 5% as they meet the qualification criteria. COMPLEX

Adam Sheffer, a veteran art dealer and former president of the Art Dealers Association of America, has allegedly become a victim of an art fraud scheme conducted by high-profile art advisor Lisa Schiff, despite his advocacy for due diligence in the art world. Sheffer, who has served as an expert witness in art fraud lawsuits, has recently testified about due diligence in a separate case involving disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick, while he is indirectly connected to a lawsuit against Schiff over missing profits from a $1.8 million painting sale. ARTNET

Currently with bidding starting at $300,000, this Goldin auction features a highly sought-after 1998 Pokémon Japanese CoroCoro Promo Rare Holofoil Illustrator Pikachu card, recognized as one of the rarest and most coveted Pokémon cards in existence. GOLDIN

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