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Largest contemporary art fair ends after some major sales

Largest contemporary art fair ends after some major sales

Art Basel, the largest international fair of contemporary art, wound up Sunday after registering some large sales but with a suggestion that the overall market may be slowing in reaction to the world's financial turmoil.
Headlines were chiefly made by Roman Abramovich, the Russian multibillionaire and owner of Chelsea soccer club, who topped the list of collectors present.
Abramovich appeared to have stayed below his spending spree last month in New York, where he paid US$120 million (euro77 million) at Sotheby's record-breaking auction, including US$86 million (euro55 million) for the top lot, a Francis Bacon triptych.
In Basel, he bought one of Alberto Giacometti's elongated woman sculptures for a seemingly modest US$14 million (euro9 million), according to The Art Newspaper's special Basel edition.
The sale of a Lucian Freud, "Girl in Attic Doorway," for US$12 million (euro7.7 million) to an undisclosed buyer was also confirmed.
Works of the more than 2,000 artists were on display, but it was up to the 300 individual galleries to disclose sales, and many did not.
Although overall sales results were not immediately available from the Art Basel organization, the weekend edition of The Art Newspaper headlined, "Market keeps moving, but the brakes start to go on."
"A frazzled economy and boom-market pricing transformed souls of last year's buyers into browsers," it said. "Much of the slow-up was blamed on Americans who opted to stay home"
It quoted Josh Baer, a private dealer who publishes an art market report, as saying, "There is less urgency. If last year they sold nine things in the first two hours, now it's six things in the first two days."
The heaviest exhibit, an eight-ton, 5.5-meter-tall (18-foot-tall) "Oval Buddha" by Japanese art star Takashi Murakami, was sold for US$8 million (euro5.1 million), the gallery confirmed.
And a painting by Ellsworth Kelly, priced at US$5 million (euro3.2 million) and topping a list of 18 works by the American artist, was also sold, according to his New York dealer.
In most cases, the names of the buyers remained undisclosed.
The Zurich-based weekly NZZ am Sonntag said that although there were fewer Americans this year, Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Owen Wilson attended, as did sheiks from Arab states.
A 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) still-life montage by Tom Wesselman, combining four separate freestanding canvases, was priced at US$10.7 million (euro6.9 million), but no information was available on whether it had been sold. At the New York auction, a Wesselman had registered a record price.
Marc Spiegel, co-director of the five-day fair, said most dealers seemed satisfied. "A lot of them are coming up to me with happy faces," he told reporters.


Updated : 2021-08-04 13:43 GMT+08:00