Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Tag: Phillips

A comprehensive report on the current art market from the Art Lending Services division at U.S. Trust

U.S. TRUST, AS DO MANY OF THE MOST HIGHLY REGARDED BANKING AND FINANCIAL ADVISORY INSTITUTIONS, OFFERS EXTENSIVE ART SERVICES. AS ART IS NOW CONSIDERED TO BE AN ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENT, AND NOT SIMPLY AN AESTHETIC PLEASURE, BANKING HAS ENTERED VERY FORCEFULLY IN THE COMPETITION TO PROVIDE ART LENDING SERVICES TO HELP BOTH COLLECTORS AND INSTITUTIONS HELP NAVIGATE THE COMPLEX ART WORLD.

RECENTLY U.S. TRUST, THE PRIVATE BANKING ARM OF BANK OF AMERICA,  PUBLISHED AN EXTREMELY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS ON THE STATE OF THE CURRENT ART MARKET. IN A TIME OF TURMOIL AND CHANGE, GENERAL REEVALUATION AND A GLOBAL SHIFT IN THE ART MARKET, IT IS PARTICULARLY RELEVANT AND THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO SHARE IT WITH YOU. WE ARE DELIGHTED, AS WELL, TO REPORT THAT DANA PRUSSIAN, VICE PRESIDENT AT U.S. TRUST ART LENDING SERVICES, WILL BE CONTRIBUTING TO THE LRFA BLOG IN THE MONTHS AHEAD.

PART ONE

“We feel that you should not buy art purely as an investment. Buy it for love, desire, legacy, culture, pleasure, addiction,

status, and community.”

Art Services Market Update

At Bank of America Private Bank, we maintain a sharp focus on the art market and on the collectors, dealers, auctions specialists and institutions that make it function. We work closely with many of you across four pillars: art lending, art planning, consignment services and institutional arts endowment management. This update features our observations on the current state of the art market from a business perspective.

The Market

  • Current low interest rates, solid equity markets and more stratified wealth creation worldwide continues to drive capital toward art. The maturation and globalization of the art market has expanded the collector base and transformed the art market from a niche lifestyle into a $60 billion global industry.1 Still, overall art market growth in terms of total art sales has stalled since 2012, even as the S&P 500has currently more than doubled since that time.
  • If the Federal Reserve (Fed) continues its dovish policy, we expect collectors’ continued allocation of capital to art. When interest rates fall, the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-bearing assets like art goes down. The art market is driven by sentiment, so the greatest risk we see is a geopolitical event that impedes the global flow of capital and credit prompting collectors to pause.

• We anticipate that financial returns for contemporary art will be lower in the next decade than some may expect. The market has absorbed a lot of art since the turn of the century. An exceedingly large percentage of those works may be worth close to zero in a generation or so. And because we’re in a more mature and efficient art market, there may be fewer upside surprises than in decades past. We feel that you should not buy art purely as an investment. Buy it for your passion, enjoyment, legacy, culture, status or community.

The Auctions

• During the New York Spring Auctions, the market absorbed over $2 billion of art at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, handily above the $1.6 billion pre-sale estimate. It was the first auction season defined by large estates of postwar
and contemporary art. Eye-catching results such as the $91 million Koons “Rabbit”, the $110 million Monet “Haystack” and the rapidly growing market for KAWS belie a more modest 5.1% annualized return2 achieved for repeat sales during the season. Given the recent performance of London auctions and the lack of clarity around a Brexit deal, New York will continue to be the premiere sale site for high-end postwar and contemporary art for the foreseeable future. Fresh-to- market works, typical of the artist’s oeuvre, in good condition, with strong provenance, continue to perform strongest at auction. Works by female and black artists also continue their rise.

• You likely saw that in June, Sotheby’s accepted a $3.7 billion buyout offer from French media entrepreneur Patrick Drahi. Interestingly, Bonhams was also bought out earlier this year. Going private will allow Sotheby’s more flexibility to compete for top lots, which will benefit major collectors, and will provide time and space to evolve its business model, which, like Christie’s, is challenged. Competition for top pictures has become a race-to-the-bottom: China isn’t the growth engine everyone hoped it would be, and online sales have yet to deliver meaningful scale or margin expansion. With business margins at around 10% for the industry, auction houses are officially on the hunt for new revenue streams.

• Look for the auction houses to continue to expand into art advisory, financial services, brand licensing and even investment research as they look beyond their supply-constrained auction business. As a collector, you may see better terms when consigning top works at auction, but expect higher commissions for lower- value works. Buyer premiums will continue to expand at all levels. Finally, get ready for more convenience. Virtual reality will change how you view upcoming sales, and artificial intelligence will soon be sending you an endless array of Netflix-style lot recommendations across all categories based on what you’ve perused across the internet.

The art market, present and future, with Phillips post-war and contemporary expert, Robert Manley

 

Edward Dolman, second from left, chairman and chief executive of Phillips, with, from left, the house’s art experts Jean-Paul Engelen, Robert Manley and Scott Nussbaum. Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times

Edward Dolman, second from left, chairman and chief executive of Phillips, with, from left, the house’s art experts Jean-Paul Engelen, Robert Manley and Scott Nussbaum.
Credit Alex Welsh for The New York Times

NEWS OF ONE OF MANY MAJOR SHIFTS IN THE AUCTION WORLD POSTED IN AUGUST, 2015, IN THE ART INDUSTRY’S NEWSLETTER,  JOSH BAER’S BAER FAXT,  ANNOUNCING THE DEPARTURE TO PHILLIPS AUCTION HOUSE OF CHRISTIE’S SPECIALISTS, JEAN-PAUL ENGELEN (POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART, CURATOR OF PUBLIC ART AT THE QATAR MUSEUM), HUGUES JOFFRE  (19th AND 20th CENTURY ART) AND ROBERT MANLEY  (DEPUTY CHAIR, POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART). WITH THIS TRIUMVIRATE IN PLACE, PHILLIPS MADE ANOTHER LARGE STRIDE AWAY FROM ITS EARLIER MONIKER, “THE THIRD AUCTION HOUSE”, TOWARDS BECOMING TODAY’S POWERHOUSE WITH A GLOBAL PRESENCE.

HAND-PICKED FROM SOTHEBY’S AND CHRISTIE’S, PHILLIPS HAS OFFERED MANY SPECIALISTS FROM THOSE VENERABLE HOUSES THE PROSPECT OF JOINING A TEAM HEADED BY EX-CHRISTIE’S AUCTION VETERAN, ED DOLMAN, CEO AT PHILLIPS SINCE 2014, AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHAPE A NEW PLATFORM FOCUSING ON THE TASTES AND VIEWPOINT OF THE CURRENT CONTEMPORARY COLLECTOR.

http://www.artnews.com/2015/03/24/ed-dolman-at-phillips-auction-house/

Edward Dolman CEO Phillips

Edward Dolman
CEO Phillips

Dolman’s years at Christie’s coincided with a sea change in collecting habits. “The profile of the collector when I started in this business was someone fairly late in life who had gotten interested in a niche market and would spend 10 to 15 years building that collection,” he said. “But now the profile is completely different. They are much younger, they have much more money to spend, and they want to put together a collection a lot more quickly. They’re a little more impatient, and the supply problem is solved by the contemporary market.”

https://news.artnet.com/market/phillips-three-hires-christies-323427

IT IS A PRIVILEGE FOR THE LRFA BLOG TO CONTINUE ITS DIALOGUE WITH ROBERT MANLEY, DEPUTY CHAIR AT PHILLIPS, WHOSE UNDERSTANDING OF THE ART AND AUCTION MARKETS AND HIS DEEP RAPPORT WITH COLLECTORS BOTH ESTABLISHED AND NASCENT, SETS A HIGH STANDARD.

Robert Manley and Jean-Paul Engelen Phillips’ Worldwide Co-Heads of 20th Century & Contemporary Art

Robert Manley and Jean-Paul Engelen
Phillips’ Worldwide Co-Heads of 20th Century & Contemporary Art

ROBERT, WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE WILL BE THE EFFECT OF THE CORRECTION THAT IS TAKING PLACE IN THE ART MARKET? IN WHAT WAYS, CAN COLLECTORS PROTECT THE VALUE OF THEIR COLLECTIONS DURING THESE SHIFTS IN THE MARKET?

I don’t see much effect of the so-called correction on any area of the market, with the exception of works over $20 million. And even in that heady territory, there is still demand, just not quite as deep. The market is alive and well although maybe a bit of the froth has subsided. You might have to fight a tiny bit less for certain works and your place on the waiting list at a top gallery might be a little bit shorter, but fundamentally, things haven’t changed much.

I try to maintain the same outlook whether it is a down market or an up market. At the risk of lapsing into an extended art world cliché, you should buy the things you love and buy as well as you can. It’s also important to put together a collection that has some themes or some kind of focus, that make it more than the sum of its parts. Get some good advice from people you trust, like Leslie Rankow for instance!

BANKSY Submerged Phone Booth 2006 Phillips London Evening Sale October 2014

BANKSY
Submerged Phone Booth
2006
Phillips London Evening Sale October 2014

One important thing to do is decide on personal financial thresholds for your collection. Under a certain amount, you should be buying purely for the love of it, and with no hope or expectation of resale or appreciation of value. Above a certain amount, you expect a work to maintain its value, which in effect, makes it more of an “investment”.  

I hate talking about art as an investment, but if you want to protect the value in your art collection, the best way to do that is to avoid putting yourself in the position of having to sell something quickly. Most quality works of art by established artists can be sold at a price that is commensurate with its quality, if you have a long enough time horizon.

The best investment advice for art is…don’t invest in art. Invest in things that make you lots of money, and then your reward is the art you buy with it. The joy you get from it is your dividend, and if it goes up in value, it’s icing on the cake. Like any form of investing, it’s a pursuit for professionals. It’s a hard business to thrive in, with high opportunity costs and massive capital risk, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to make it your full-time occupation.

Interior view Phillips Auction House, London

Interior view
Phillips Auction House, London

THAT IS VERY GOOD ADVICE.

WHAT IS PARTICULARLY EXCITING ABOUT JOINING PHILLIPS AND WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS AND RESPONSIBILITIES?

It was a great year on garden leave but I very much looked forward to joining Phillips. I am working side by side with Jean-Paul Engelen, providing strategic planning and vision for the Contemporary department worldwide. Most of my time is spent doing the same things I’ve always been doing, working with top clients and important works of art. Essentially I’ve been doing the same thing for about 26 years, but it never gets old because there are always new things to learn, and great collections to see.

The new challenge I welcome very much is working with Jean-Paul and CEO Ed Dolman, and many others, to create a strong team mentality, with complete trust and transparency. Phillips has put together an incredible team, some of the best and most experienced from all of the top auction houses, in all of the fields that matter to Phillips. The shareholders of Phillips are passionate art collectors themselves, have a long-term vision and are willing to invest in it. We have some innovative ideas about how we are going to organize our auctions and reach into new markets…at a smaller company like Phillips, we can do things that are impossible at a larger corporation. I’m very bullish on the contemporary art market in general and feel Phillips is positioned like no other company to play a leadership role in it.

Phillips New York

Phillips New York

ROBERT, THIS WAS SUCH A VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG. SO MANY THANKS!

IN THE NEXT POST, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO VISIT THE LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY IN CHELSEA. THE GALLERY SPECIALIZES IN CLASSIC POST-WAR AMERICAN ART WITH AN EMPHASIS ON ARTISTS WHO CAME INTO PROMINENCE IN THE 1950s AND  1960s.  THE FORTHCOMING SOLO EXHIBITION OF MAJOR CANVASES BY EDWARD DUGMORE FROM THE !960s OPENS ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23rd AND CONTINUES THROUGH MARCH 25th, AT 521 WEST 26th STREET, IN CHELSEA, NEW YORK.

UNTIL THEN, THANKS FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG!

 

The hierarchy of the auction world with Robert Manley, Deputy Chair of Phillips

auctions-1

THE FIRST RECORDED AUCTION ACTIVITY TOOK PLACE IN GREECE IN 500 BC WHERE WOMEN WERE AUCTIONED OFF AS BRIDES BY THEIR FAMILIES. ACCORDING TO THE RESEARCH POSTED IN THE TELEGRAPH, IN A BLOG BY CHARLOTTE ZAJICEK, IN OCTOBER 2016, THE ROMANS, AS WELL, WERE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE AUCTION PROCESS, REGULARLY SELLING OFF THE SPOILS OF WAR, SLAVES AND DEBTORS’ HOLDINGS BY THIS MEANS.

Roman Slavery Auctions

Roman Slavery Auctions

AFTER A LULL OF SEVERAL CENTURIES, THE AUCTION HOUSE, IN A FORM SIMILAR TODAY, BEGAN TO MULTIPLY, THE FIRST, THE STOCKHOLM AUCTION HOUSE APPEARING IN 1674, FOLLOWED BY SOTHEBY’S, FOUNDED IN 1744 AND THEN CHRISTIE’S, IN 1766.  IN RECENT DECADES, MODERN TECHNOLOGY HAS TRANSFORMED THE PROCESS OF AUCTIONING, INITIALLY WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF TELEPHONE BIDDING AND AND CURRENTLY REVOLUTIONIZING THE AUCTION PROCESS WITH ONLINE AUCTIONS DURING A PERIOD WHEN THE CONTEMPORARY ART MARKET HAS EXPLODED TO A FULLY GLOBAL SCOPE.

Online auction

Online auction

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG WELCOMES BACK ROBERT MANLEY, DEPUTY CHAIR AND WORLDWIDE CO-HEAD OF POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT PHILLIPS, FOR A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE AUCTION HOUSE DEPARTMENT HIERARCHY, FORM AND FUNCTION. THANK YOU, ROBERT, FOR TAKING THE TIME TO JOIN US!

HOW DOES CHRISTIE’S STRUCTURE ITS DEPARTMENTS? WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A JUNIOR SPECIALIST, SENIOR SPECIALIST AND DEPARTMENT HEAD?

At the top, you have the International Head (or Co-Heads) who provides the vision and overall direction of the department worldwide. Then there are the local Heads of Department in New York and London, who report into the International Head. Then there are Sale Heads: Evening sale, Day Sale, Off-season (such as First Open), and Online sales. These Sale Heads are in charge of virtually every decision related to their sale, and they report into the local Department Heads. Junior specialists/cataloguers generally report to Sale Heads. 

imgres

Then there are various senior colleagues who report to International Heads, who work on various important deals and assist important clients. We also had a separate Private sale department within the department, with its own team of specialists and administrators. This was the general structure about 1 year ago. In many ways, all specialists do the same things—we work on appraisals, price and evaluate artwork, help bring in business, help manage consignments, and work with collectors and dealers when it comes to buying and selling art.

Working side by side with the International Heads and Department Heads are Business Managers, who make sure everything runs smoothly and help manage everything on a day to day basis. They are the unsung heroes of the departments, in some ways, along with the various administrators who help manage the mountains of paperwork and logistics.

891b5fbe-944e-11e5-9fb8-d653e0e6771e-1

HOW MUCH INVOLVEMENT DID YOU AND YOUR TEAM HAVE IN THE WRITING OF THE CATALOGUE LOT NOTES, A RICH AND HUGELY ACADEMIC CONTRIBUTION NOT JUST TO THE SALE BUT TO THE UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE LOTS COMING UP FOR SALE.

When I started in 2000, the specialists on the team wrote all of the notes. I wrote a fair amount of the Evening sale essays in my first 6 years at Christie’s and it was an important part of my learning experience. I remember on more than one occasion, being at Christie’s at 3AM as we were finishing the Evening sale catalogue, and having Brett Gorvy (the International Head of Christie’s) ask me to write or rewrite a quick catalogue note. The catalogue deadline period is a bit like being in graduate school, and working insanely long hours was (and still is) a regular occurrence.

I forget the exact date but it wasn’t until about 2008 or so that we finally hired a proper full-time writer…by the time I left, we had a small team of writers (and a pool of freelancers) writing most of the essays. Brett Gorvy was a writer before he joined Christie’s and he took the texts and catalogues very seriously, obsessing about the comparables we would use, and the catalogue layout. He wrote many of the texts himself and still writes on the things that are important to him. In this regard, he was very much an inspiration and I learned a great deal from him.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS IN TERMS OF CONSIGNING WORK FOR SALE? HOW DOES THE SELECTION PROCESS OF WHICH SALE WOULD BENEFIT THE CONSIGNEE THE MOST TAKE PLACE?

Another great question, impossible to answer quickly. It really depends on the object. For 90% of the works, the choice is clear—all sales have a general band of minimum and maximum values and most artists have a clear track record of having performed well in those venues. And as I said before, my personal philosophy is that the auction estimate is what matters, more than the venue.

But there are situations in which a work of art can arguably be put in more than one sale and that is a decision that is generally made by a Sale Head. When it involves an Evening sale, the Sale Head typically gets input from their senior colleagues. We treat one-off consignments differently than a collection. You might not put a $100,000 Warhol in an Evening sale, but if it comes in with a nice group of higher value Pop Art, you might.

andy_warhol_christies_triple_elvis

There is also an intangible quality, a bit hard to define, but you are looking to put as many “special” works as possible in the Evening sale. Unlike a day sale, you can only have a finite number of works in an Evening sale and since it is the only Sale that the press will cover, it needs to be both interesting and commercially successful.

Personally, I think the distinction between an “Evening sale lot” and a “Day sale lot” is a false one. Every situation is different. I remember putting some great works by the Canadian Color Field painter, Jack Bush, into an off-season sale in July 2013 (from the collection of Andy Williams)…a move that some people in the trade were second-guessing. The three works in the sale remain three of the four highest prices ever paid for the artist, including the current world record, which sold for over $600,000 against an estimate of $30-50,000!

Jack Bush Red Side Right (Right Side Red) 1965

Jack Bush
Red Side Right (Right Side Red) 1965

YOU REACHED THE STATUS OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN AT CHRISTIE’S PRIOR TO YOUR DEPARTURE? WHAT WERE THE RESPONSIBILITIES IN THAT ROLE AND IN THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ON WHICH YOU SERVED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY DEPARTMENT?

Essentially I did the same job I always did…working with top clients on top consignments. The only difference was that on the Executive Committee (and other committees I served on), I was involved with the strategic planning and overall vision of the department.

THE ART MARKET ENTERED A CORRECTION PHASE AT LEAST TWO YEARS AGO, AND WITH EACH PASSING SEASON OF AUCTION RESULTS, CONTINUES ITS REVISIONIST TREND. ROBERT MANLEY IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST EXPERIENCED AND SEASONED VETERANS OF THE AUCTION WORLD AND, IN OUR NEXT POST, THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO HAVE HIM AS OUR GUIDE.

PLEASE JOIN US!

 

 

Transitions: from gallery to auction, with Phillips Deputy Chair Robert Manley

Thomas Hart Benton America Today Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thomas Hart Benton
America Today
Metropolitan Museum of Art

AS THE ART MARKET, PARTICULARLY FOR POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY WORKS,  HAS REACHED MONOLITHIC PROPORTIONS AND CONSEQUENTLY ENORMOUS PUBLIC ATTENTION, MANY COLLECTORS WHEN DEACCESSIONING WORKS HAVE GRAVITATED TO THE DISCRETIONARY ADVANTAGES OF A PRIVATE SALE. NOW, AS WE FACE A CORRECTION IN THE ART MARKET, MORE COLLECTORS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY SEEK THE PRIVATE SALE SECTOR BE IT AT AUCTION, A GALLERY OR PRIVATE DEALER,  TO PROTECT THE WORKS THEY ARE INTERESTED IN SELLING.

WHEN THE MARKET SLOWS AND COLLECTORS AND AUCTION SPECIALISTS ARE ANALYZING THE BEST VENUE FOR THE SALE OF A WORK, GALLERY EXPERIENCE IS INVALUABLE IN DEVELOPING THE SKILL AND COUNSELING REQUIRED WHEN WORKING INTIMATELY WITH CLIENTS IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.

ROBERT MANLEY, DEPUTY CHAIR  AND WORLDWIDE CO-HEAD OF 20th CENTURY AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT PHILLIPS AUCTION HOUSE, BRINGS BOTH THE THE GALLERY EXPERIENCE THAT ENCOURAGES LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLECTORS AND THE AUCTION EXPERTISE THAT  OFFERS A PROFOUND KNOWLEDGE OF THE MARKET  AND CONTACTS WITH PRIVATE COLLECTORS WORLD-WIDE.

ROBERT, THANK YOU FOR OUR CONTINUED DIALOGUE.

DID YOU WORK WITH OTHER GALLERIES BEFORE YOU JOINED THE AUCTION WORLD? IF SO, WHICH GALLERIES AND WHAT DID THEY FOCUS UPON?

I also worked at ACA Gallery in New York, an art gallery with a rich history that dated back over 70 years. They focused on American Art, especially Social Realism, and had a number of important exhibitions over their storied history, from Joseph Cornell to Romare Bearden…

 

Romare Bearden The Block Metropolitan Museum of Art

Romare Bearden
The Block
Metropolitan Museum of Art

I remember mounting a show of tribal art from Papua, New Guinea in 1989…the Bergens (Sidney, Jonathan and Jeffrey) were always open to new possibilities.

Headdress: Serpent (a-Mantsho-ña-Tshol) 19th–20th century Guinea, Niger River region

Headdress: Serpent (a-Mantsho-ña-Tshol)
19th–20th century
Guinea, Niger River region

I spent a number of formative years at the aforementioned Luise Ross Gallery, which specialized in the work of a number of lesser known Abstract Expressionists (like Herman Cherry and Kimber Smith), as well as Outsider Art/Art Brut. At all of the galleries I worked at, we also had compelling shows of living artists who were mostly living and working in New York.

Herman Cherry 10 Cooper Square Studio 1968

Herman Cherry
10 Cooper Square Studio
1968

WHAT WERE YOUR PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN THE GALLERY STRUCTURE? WHICH ASPECTS OF GALLERY MANAGEMENT APPEALED TO YOU THE MOST?

Like most art galleries, especially the modest-sized ones where I worked, it was all hands on deck…I did everything from sweep the floors to curate exhibitions (and I did much more of the former than the latter in the beginning). The first show I curated was a historical survey of voyeurism called “Peep Show”, which included everything from Ray Johnson to Indian Miniatures to Picasso. I will never forget the thrill of reading Holland Cotter’s sympathetic review of it in the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/10/arts/art-in-review-peep-show.html

What I enjoyed most about the business were the dialogues at the gallery. They all revolved around the issues of art, the ideas behind them, their presentation, as well as trying to figure out how to place them in the best collections and getting writers and curators interested in our program. I was utterly broke, but it was a very rewarding and engaging time. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my first year in the art world, 1990, was when the market crashed and it would take about 10 years to recover.

WHEN DID YOU JOIN CHRISTIE’S AND IN WHAT POSITION? WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO LEARN ANOTHER ASPECT OF THE ART WORLD?

I joined Christie’s East on June 19, 2000 as the Head of the Twentieth Century Art department. Christie’s East sold the lower value works, the equivalent of Christie’s South Kensington today (or back in the day, what Sotheby’s called their “Arcade” sales).  I was overseeing both the Impressionist and Modern Art sales and the Post-War and Contemporary offerings. This sounds a bit lofty, but the works were valued mostly under $10,000 and the entire “department” consisted of me and a stellar Administrator, Aviva Geller, without whom I would have never survived. I catalogued, researched and sold over 1,000 artworks a year and estimated three times that many.

Christie's 20 Rockefeller Center

Christie’s
20 Rockefeller Center

Gallery owners, especially throughout the 1990s when the art world was much smaller, were very much the kings of their castle and they made virtually every meaningful decision. This made it hard for the people who worked for them to grow and develop. There were few directors that had much autonomy to curate exhibitions and there were limited travel opportunities. At the time, working in an auction house gave you much more freedom and autonomy.

Most importantly, I wanted to join an auction house because of the new learning opportunities. At a gallery, you learn everything there is to know about a relatively small number of artists in the gallery stable…whereas in an auction, you need to learn something—fast–about every significant artist of your period. And in the contemporary arena, you are constantly challenged to keep learning about new artists that become relevant, as well as older artists that were forgotten but are being reassessed.

WHAT POSITIONS DID YOU FILL OVER THE YEARS AT CHRISTIE’S? HOW DID THEY EVOLVE AND WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES DURING EACH PHASE AT THE AUCTION HOUSE?

I worked my way slowly up from being in charge of the Christie’s East sales of 20th Century Art, to working on more important works of art and collections. I also did a fair amount of writing for the Evening sale catalogues—this is a time when the specialists wrote the essays. I was promoted to Head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening sale in 2007, a position I held for about 5 years.

Robert Manley with Warhol's Silver Liz Looking Forward to the Past 11 May 2015, New York,

Robert Manley with
Warhol’s Silver Liz
Looking Forward to the Past
11 May 2015, New York,

As a Sale Head, whether it is a $1 million or $700 million auction, you are essentially in charge of making sure every detail is done right, from research, catalogue presentation, viewing, marketing, selling. You also need to be a master of psychology, to manage all of the egos that come into play, because all of the sales have consignments from top specialists and top clients. In the end, it was an incredible experience and I am privileged to have worked with knowledgeable specialists, world class objects and the people who owned them.

Shortly into my tenure as Evening sale head, I also became the Head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Department in New York. I enjoyed working with my colleagues and tried to make the department a smarter, better place. I encouraged collaboration and transparency, two traits not always embraced in the contemporary art market. I held that position for about 6 years or so, when I shifted away from direct management and became Deputy Chairman.

Robert Manley, 2012 at Christie's in front of "Untitled," by Lee Bontecou; "Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square," by Carl André in foreground

Robert Manley, 2012 at Christie’s in front of “Untitled,” by Lee Bontecou;
“Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square,” by Carl André in foreground

Although I held a number of leadership positions at Christie’s, the focus has always been on art and clients—every day we saw collections, appraised art, organized auctions, met with collectors…the main thing that changed over the years was the value of the art.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA POST, WE’LL HAVE ROBERT MANLEY’S INSIDER VIEW INTO THE INTERNATIONAL AUCTION WORLD. PLEASE JOIN US!

 

Cheyenne Westphal shares the history of her professional path in the auction world

Cheyenne at Phillips, London 2017

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, I’D LIKE TO POSE A QUESTION THAT I AM SURE WILL INTEREST EVERYONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT  A CAREER IN THE ARTS. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?

When I was at St. Andrews, I received a scholarship to study in California and took an art history course that was very traditional. The first lecture that addressed contemporary art was on Cindy Sherman and I wanted to know more!

My first job was at Sotheby’s. I applied in 1990 and had the advantage, not as common at the time, of being bilingual. I started in the Impressionist Department cataloguing for the first year. There is an enormous volume of material to research, to estimate to determine if it should be consigned. I did this all day long. One develops a great deal of knowledge and also the eye to recognize a wonderful work by seeing a great many lesser examples.

YOU HAVE SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS, AND DESERVEDLY SO, POSITION. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS OR AMBITIONS FOR THE FUTURE?

I love what I do. It doesn’t get boring. Although the format stays the same, there is always new material, new collections, new clients. I can’t get blasé about it when I am surrounded by extraordinary works such as the group of Richters, the Clyfford Stills and the minimalist works coming us this November.

It is completely interesting to make auction history – such as with the Damien Hirst single artist sale in 2008. This year has been one of extraordinary accomplishment bringing in the great German works from the Sixties. In the private sale sector, I enjoy making the deal, finding exactly the work that someone is looking fr, knowing where all the works are and approaching the owner.

I love the momentum of auction, the crescendo of the events leading up to the auction itself.

THANK YOU, CHEYENNE, VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME AND ASTUTE KNOWLEDGE AND FOR THE PLEASURE OF YOUR ABSOLUTE DELIGHT IN WHAT YOU DO.

Next week, I look forward to interviewing Nicholas Christopher, who heads Turon Travel, the designated  travel agency specialists for art fairs around the world. In anticipation of Miami Art Basel, I am very pleased to have a chance to speak with him.