Archive for the ‘Auction’ Category

Wow !! Looks like a big number doesn´t it?!

Unfortunately it is in Colombian pesos . . .however, it is still a tidy sum of around USD $450.000.

Which for Colombia means it was one of the biggest sales ever.

The auction was arranged by Maria Victoria Estrada and Ana Sokoloff and was held to raise funds for Colombian charities such as Conexión Colombia, Colombia Diversa, Fundación Genesis y Fundacion Juan Felipe Escobar.

Ana Sokoloff, who has worked with Christies in New York, and with many galleries in Bogota selected the artists for this auction with an eye on maintaining high quality latin american artworks in the auction. The auction was held in the top Colombian gallery “La Cometa” which is run by Esteban Jaramillo and has held exhibitions in the past of artist such as Luis Luna, Jason Galarraga and Le Parc.

Through this successful auction more than 600,000 Colombians should benefit in someway through the application of the money within the charities that are to benefit from some of the proceeds.


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Once again we are at that time of year when the Latin American Art market starts to get all excited and to see what could be tremendous results at auction for some of their better known (and usually defunct!) artists!

This time around Rufino Tamayo has emerged as the leader for the sale of his works “Trovador” (sold for $7.2 M) and “El Comedor de Sandìas” ($3.625M).

Representing Colombia as ever was Botero and a “new” rising star to the art auction scene Omar Rayo.

Locally Rayo`s work have been getting much more difficult to get a hold of and prices have been strongly rising which is now being well reflected in international auctions. His work “Pijao” from 1970 (100cm x 100cm – acrylic / canvas) was sold for more that its estimate and made USD $18,000.

The Colombian sculptor Eduardo Ramirez Villamizar (RIP) also had works for sale which more than exceeded expectations: an acrylic scupture estimated at $4000 sold for $13,000!!!!

An Ana Mercedes Hoyos bronze also did well and reached its price estimate of $16,000.

All in all, a good night at the auctions for Colombian art.

What is really interesting to note is that in 1979 when Sothebys started selling Latin American art at auction they sold a total of $1M. Now, just 30 years later their total sales tops $50M which does show how the the market has expanded. And I believe will continue to expand when it is considered that the Latin American economies are growing strong despite a blip in the US economy this year. So, start visiting your local galleries and get yourself up to date on the local Latin American art scene if you think it is time to make you money count!

If you would like some tips on where to invest in the colombian art scene you are welcome to write to:

art (at) artcolombia.com

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Yesterday I was having a chat with a few artist friends and an art book editor here in Bogota, and as is not uncommon, the conversation turned to why one artist`s work is worth more than another. As is usual all the artists agreed that it has nothing necessarily to do with the quality of the work but more to do with the marketing behind the work and the support given by the galleries and the general players with the art world and markets.

Applying these comments to Colombia, the formal markets here, the artist support networks and infrastructure etc are all pretty non-existent. There is a good art market in the sense that people are happy to buy art they like. I can`t say they are always very studious in their decision making but that can often be said for general art markets around the world. Also, original art is pretty expensive when compared to average incomes in Colombia.

It is probably due to this lack of formal interest in stimulating the art market and related businesses within Colombia itself that has pretty much created a Berlin wall type scenario whereby the majority of art created in Colombia just can`t reach the right audience outside of Colombia and as such prices for many artists are limited by the economic reality of Colombia.

Those artists that have done well in Colombia and overseas have often through their own initiative and sweat gone overseas and done their own promotion. Even though it can pay off, major Colombain artists like Omar Rayo for instance will only command a price of around USD $15 – 30,000 for a good piece of work right now – and having said that his prices have tripled in the last five years probably due to the fact that he is now eighty years old! But he won`t be seeing much benefit of those prices for works that are being re-sold in auctions on the international markets.

How Much Is My Painting Worth?

Now thats almost like asking “How long is a piece of string?”.

Right now in London – at the London Business School – they are readying a conference on Art Investment. This is the second such conference. So, almost 500 years after the Medici family started the ball rolling by investing heavily in art, the world is just getting to the point where it is starting tor formalize the art markets – or al least, it thinks it is. The conference is titled “The Science and Passion of Art Investing”.

i am sure the conference will be very interesting – but I think when we try to bring science to analyze art markets we must be extremely careful or we will probably end up with no art and a lot of betting being disguised as investment in art. This will lead art markets down the road of the timeshare industry and the cowboy image it still has today.

International Art Values and Colombia

Having said all that, art as an investment can and should be something to be considered – but trying to formalize and or standardize international art markets will take an immense amount of time – if it ever happens. And here I return to my meeting of yesterday. One person commented that through the application of “science” to try and rank the artists of the world that one of Colombia`s top ranked artists would be positioned at number 36,000 in the world!!! Someone whose work regularly sells here for USD $25,000 and more would be valued at around $5000 according to the ranking process!!! So much for science! It might lead to a lot of people getting mad in Colombia were such a system to be brought in. And probably not only Colombia – science or pseudo-science when applied to the art markets could upset a lot of people and could actually scare off investors rather than provide them with security.

Having said this, the world is tending now towards a global integration – or globalization – which I suppose will lead to the creation of some kind of yardstick to measure art values by. If this is so, then the only way that an artist will rank will be to follow the rules of the algorithm that is doing the ranking – somehow, that seems to stink to me!

Art Markets Are Local (a.k.a Art and Football)

Art markets are always local. Always. Ok, The international art market does exist – but it probably moves less than 0.00001% of the art in the world. So, what to do about the art in our local markets. Should that $25,000 piece of art maintain its price or will it be devalued by globalization. I sincerely do not have an answer. But I do believe that it would be wrong to try and create a global playing field that destroys local market pricing. If a ranking system were to be introduced it should follow a FIFA soccer-type system whereby local clubs can be major players but also be major international players. Artists have to come up through the leagues, just like a soccer team. They have to build a following and maintain that. It helps when there is the right infrastructure and that is still what is lacking in Colombia which also allows for market distortions. So I really hope it comes soon.


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There was a great article written by Diego Guerrero for El Tiempo today about how now was a good time to buy Latin American art. Actually Diego, though I admire your writings (and I have still to do a detailed follow-up on an article you wrote a few weeks ago, which I hope to get around to this week) and totally accept your general hypothesis – the time to buy was really about 10 years ago!

Yep, it`s not that Latin American art is at its peak as an asset class – far from it – but the world art industry as a whole has had its eyes off-the-ball interms of Latin American art for at least the last two decades and in terms of Colombian contemporary art at least since the death of Marta Traba.

Sure some Colombian artists have done well during that time, but there are sooooo many that have been overlooked and are just starting to get “discovered”. Most of those who get the big press run with the “in crowd” and move in the “right circles” even though their art is not particularly great. Some are still born with a silver spoon in their mouths and come from rich families. when I talk about art in Colombia, the number of times I have heard the reply – ooh, my aunt paints and she`s pretty good! Boring! But worst of all, due to all of this these aunties get their work exposed in some top galleries because their related family move industries in Colombia – and some of these industrial barons just happen to . . . invest in art – ooh, what a coincidence!

I know some excellent artists who have ridden the rails of poverty and still their art is not recognized in Colombia because the country is still very elitist in that sense – and those very same artists, once their work gets external exposure start to receive the appreciation they and their art deserve. But I do digress slightly. All I will add is that not every artist that get press or gallery time in Colombia is worthy of that coverage – and many artists that are do not get covered.

Ok, where were we?, Ah, yes!

Time to Invest in Colombian Art?

Yes it is time to invest in Colombian art – but you do have to take care because there have been distorsions in the local market pricing for the last 15 years that have still to get completely ironed out. These were caused by the influx of cheap drug money into the country in the early nineties.

The local “consecrated” artists are in some ways very cheap in international terms – but the reality is, many of them have never moved in the international markets. Even a well known living artist like Ana Mercedes Hoyos has only around 20 international auctions to her name yet her work is locally moving at over $50,000 and sometime more – yet my belief is that she has still a long way to go if she want to market her art properly. With respect to the way Chinese art is getting promoted internationally, her works are way underpriced – but I do ask the question – couldn`t it be that many Chinese artworks are way overpriced . . . . ? I tend towards the latter as my answer as many of these have come form left field – but again, I digress.

Art as an investment requires the same due diligence that Benjamin Graham and other noted investors would probably give as advice prior to deciding upon where to place his money in stocks. However, art does instill in us the emotions that the purchase of a common stock probably never will!

Another reason that NOW is the time to invest in Colombian art and a rather non-altruistic reason is the following: art can unite people, countries and companies. Right now, Colombian business and the country is on a wave. Many new investors and companies are setting up business in Colombia and actually being able to show that they are “interested” in Colombia via its culture is a great way of creating/maintaining local relations on a good level. Again, not what we want to hear as art lovers – but it is a reality. It is actually also good for Colombian art – and as the country continues to develop you can expect to see further relations develop between businesses that are setting up in Colombia and the development of the careers of some of the countries artists at a national and international level – mark may words! So expect to see some new sales in the near future of some Colombian business moguls aunts artwork!

Till the next one! 🙂


If you are interested in reading Diego`s original post (in Spanish) here is the link:


Note: The article when published in Lecturas was followed up by an article by Cecilia Valdes Urrutia called “The World Invest in Art” and was orginally published in El Mercurio of Chile and is also worth reading.


If you want to discuss this article just write me a comment!

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. . . and here of course I do mean money – dosh – mulaah!!!! I am not talking about its aesthetic value.

Well let me start in the following manner – the PRICING of art and its VALUE are of course two different things. However, if markets are sufficiently transparent and geographically and culturally integrated then there should not be any great variation in prices – however the reality is much different – especially I would say for Latin American artists.

Cultural Factors in Art Pricing

This is probably the simplest to explain. If you are a born and bred latino presently living outside Latin America, perhaps in NYC, and you have had an interest in your countries art you will most probably be prepared to pay for a work by an artist that meets your cultural criteria. Whereas, an artwork that falls into a different cultural category, though it may interest you, would not stimulate that same desire to make a purchase.

However, if you were a native New Yorker, even if you had an interest in Latin Art, you would probably make the purchase based on additional recommendations from the gallery or dealer that had the work that interested you . . . plus you would probably look for a good discount!

Another factor that comes under this section is obviously what the artist paints (or sculpts or creates just to broaden the pool of opportunity) . Art that is typically Latin and reflects its authors “country / place of birth” will not appeal to everyone around the world – again it would probably be more appealing to someone from the same region. Take the work of Fernando Botero as an example. Here in Colombia his works sell very well and get the international prices that are well established and given the size of the economy and the general lack of wealth that is in the country this is rather surprising. Now, although many people who are non-latinos probably own works of Botero I am sure that apart from their enjoyment of the artists work they made their purchase under the assurance of a gallery or dealer of the works value. Whereas in Colombia, Botero is in many ways held in very high esteem and that is probably the determining factor in pricing in this market. However, there are other well-known latin artists here in Colombia such as Armando Villegas whose work may regularly sell for USD $10 – 50,000 in Colombia (Again in part for being well-known and respected) but whose work would command such prices overseas or outside Colombia only with extreme difficulty outside of the latino community. And this brings me on to my next factor.

Geographical Factors in Art Pricing

A well known and well quoted artist in terms of pricing within a select geographical zone will not always be able to sell their work outside of that zone at the same pricing levels and would probably have to drop their prices (which usually is not in their best interest) or just grin and bear it while the new zones to be marketed come up to speed with the artist and their body of work. Of course given the internationalization of the art world this in some ways has become easier to do but the contradictory effect is that so many people are doing so that supply is outstripping demand which of course means more effort and costs have to be put into marketing the artist and their work – which is where almost all profit would go . . . and not to the artist. Of course the artist does benefit from increased international exposure. But as ever, the human race being what we are, look to take the easy way out . . . and this bring me to the point of “universality” in art.

Universality as a Factor in Art Pricing

Now, given the history of the development of art and the hegemonic positions of European and American art, the tendency so far is for this type of art to obtain higher prices – particularly so now that conceptual art has developed so much and indeed captured the market in terms of higher prices. Also, this type of art has for many developed into the gold standard in art. What a great pity I say.

All European art is, is INDIGENOUS art from Europe. So, in order to sell around the world and take part in world pricing many artist from Latin America “buy into” the scheme that this is the only art to be created – and of course this too is what is taught in art schools around the world. Talk about globalization. What we really mean is homogenization – milk for the masses. I believe that real art has more to offer.

So unfortunately many young artists in Latin America are looking to become “universal artists” to help ease their work into the accepted body of world art. What a great pity I say again. Although universality in art can help enter an already broad world art market very few artists of this ilk tend to command high prices . . . and those that do usually have something else to offer.


Well, that raps up todays session.Just to say that if you want to find out more about how art prices behave in transparent international markets I suggest you go to ArtPrice. It is a site that I use and trust.

ArtPrice - International Art Prices

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So what do defaulted mortgages, foreclosures and art have in common?

Well, in the Wall Street Journal Americas it was recently reported that in order to reverse the problems created by the mortgage credit crisis that was created by the Federal Reserve, the Department of Treasury of the USA is looking to create a rescue fund to try and ensure an orderly way out of the mess that has been created.

They plan to do this by forming SIVs (Structured Investment Vehicles) which will be emitted as short term commercial papers ultimately backed by the banks. Anyway, the big question is how liquid will these commercial papers be in the market. i.e. will they be easy to sell as well as to buy?

And here of course many of you will understand how such a problem also relates to the art market – right?

Exactly – liquidity.

How To Bring Liquidity To An Art Market

One of the biggest problems that I encounter when deciding where to invest in art is being able to define if my purchase is likely to have liquidity. Often, if I am selling a piece of art that is also one of the questions that I get asked too. What do I mean by that? I mean are there or will there be sufficient people interested in buying the piece of art that I decide to sell at some time in the future such that it will be easily sold?

Well apparent from being clairvoyant you will need to be able to look at reliable independent data to see what is going on in the art market. Most galleries (and the artists they represent) will probably not tell you if their art is not selling too well. (Hey, sound like when the real estate companies couldn´t move their off-plans a while ago in Miami!) So where do you go to find out? Personally I use ArtPrice.

ArtPrice is a company based in France and brings in independent data from all the important art auctions around the world and makes it available to the public for a small monthly fee or one-time annual payment. It has a lot of free info too.

Art Price - Art Auction Prices

Well, just as those SIVs may turn out be pretty illiquid for awhile – what can be done to help bring liquidity to the art markets?One of the biggest problems that the mortgage credit crisis had (and in part one of the reasons that it has become a crisis) is that the mortgages when they were packaged and sold as securities were not properly marked to market – and the companies that bought these “securities” should have known this. The reason they didn´t was because there was little transparency and perhaps a little (!) gullibility and greed on their part.

Transparency of realistic prices in the market is important and today there was a recent report that at major international auctions many contemorary “western” artworks were not sold or were sold at low prices – whereas oriental and in particular chinese contemporary art is starting to fetch record prices . . . so it is important to understand how the art market periodically changes too.

The best way to bring liquidity to the art market is to have more public auctions and/or more transparency in the sale prices of artworks in galleries.

Of course the main problem with either of these methods is that the market (especially a small one) can always be manipulated and of course the quality of different works even by the same artist can vary – which is a factor that buying bit of paper or SIVs tends to even out.

So, ideally we need transparent pricing and factors such as evening out the works of an artist over the sale of different art pieces and creating some kind of index, right!

Well, you can find that too at ArtPrice. So if you are interested in art markets and the prices therein I suggest you check them out!

Art Price - Art Auction Prices


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Noooo! I do not mean the artist is being sold . . . . just one of his paintings: The well known work ‘El conquistador’ by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero will be brought to auction tomorrow in Madrid.

With an estimated value of US$630.000 I predict that this large painting (224 x 170 cm) signed in 1984 and showing a spanish “conquistador” looking at the spectator while holding a blunderbuss in one hand and a sword in the other while treading on the face of a dead indian, will reach a much greater price…..probably over USD $1.000.000 if all goes well.

Hopefully this piece of art still belongs to Botero. Although he is estimated to have a fortune greater than USD $100.000.000 he has always denied this…and I believe him.

Making huge amounts of money in the art world is not always so easy and as in any business there are many cogs that have to boiled for the machine to work correctly. So, although the Maestro has never pleaded poverty I feel certain that his wealth is not as great as many would be led to believe . . . !

So tomorrow, October 9th at the Sala Retiro de Caja Madrid, this great work along with other Spanish and Latin American artists such as Antoni Tàpies, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Danilo Vinardell, Agustín Bejarano and Roberto Fabelo.

If you would like to know more about international pricing of artworks you can always go to ArtPrice which is THE place to get transparent data on the international art market.

Get Transparent Art Prices Now!

PostDatum: Well the results are in and Mr Botero´s artwork sold for the reported price of . . . . 645.700 euros (though I am not if that includes the auctioneers commission)  which is right now about USD $930.000 so I wasn’t far away in my estimate.

PS: If any readers are looking to purchase a Botero original then please contact me initially through this blog.

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