ART BASEL MARKET REVIEW 2010
by Heidi Lee
(image: Opening day at Art Basel 41)
As I practiced the customary three kiss greeting with Swiss colleagues, I toured around Art Basel’s 41st edition of the world’s more important art fair this past June featuring 300 leading galleries and works by over 2,500 artists. If the mood at ArtBasel Miami Beach in December was tepid and apprehensive, than ArtBasel41 this June was upbeat and confident with strong results marking a successful fair in terms of quality. Neil Wenman of White Cube Gallery in London said “this year ranks as one of our best performances in Basel.”
Swift sales on the opening day showed how remarkably resilient the art market is. Choice works sold to heavy hitting collectors from China, Russia and Greece at top prices. Many galleries sold their top lots which included a monumental Cecily Brown painting at Contemporary Arts Berlin for $850,000 USD, a Barbara Kruger for $700,000 at Skarstedt and a Richard Prince at Gagosian for $4.2m.
Depsite the exuberance however, some art commentators said they felt that Europeans were not as bullish as the Americans collectors perhaps due to the recession and recent depreciation of the Euro. Some were still not deterred though and a European snatched up Takashi Murakami’s Yume Lion for $1.4m.
The contemporary art auctions also reported strong sales despite thinner pickings. Sotheby’s had only 44 lots but total sales reached $62m USD which included Yves Klein’s RE49 that sold for $6.2m GBP. Again, quality was king.