Speculators Win Big With Bets on Young Artists

LONDON — Three years ago, his large paintings were selling for around $40,000 each at a little-known gallery. In 2021, one of them was resold. Sotheby’s auction A record 3.1 million dollars. Another is hanging Downing Street Home of British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak.

Flora Yuhnovich31 year old British painter victoria miro London gallery opens Tuesday, one of the most sought after young rising stars in the art world and internationally his works attract insatiable demands from collectors and speculators.

“There are hundreds of very interested, serious collectors asking questions after study,” said Matt Carey-Williams, Victoria Miro’s sales manager.

The heat in the market for Yukhnovich’s exuberant semi-abstract paintings is symptomatic of the phenomenon known asturning.” When demand for some artists significantly exceeds supply, those lucky enough to acquire their work through galleries can make enormous profits if they offer their work at auction. Galleries are keen to avoid this: A bubbling resale market can make it harder for artists to pursue long-term careers.

“Auction results do not affect the pricing strategy adopted for Flora’s operation,” said Carey-Williams. Refusing to be interviewed for this article, Yukhnovich has a distinctive painting style that transforms the figured messy subjects of the old masters into swirling specks of color. According to Carey-Williams, her most recent works in the Victoria Miro exhibition are between $135,000 and $470,000 (£100,000 to £350,000), reflecting the artist’s gallery prices “have risen slowly and carefully over the last 18 months”.

Yukhnovich’s auction prices, on the other hand, have risen to a different area, which is only encouraging more buyers to join the line.

The stakes in gambling on young contemporary art have never been higher.

In 2014, works by artists under the age of 40 raised $181 million at auction. Last year, they achieved a record turnover of $450 million, an increase of 275 percent compared to 2020. art price, a France-based company that tracks international auction sales. Paintings by artists like Smith, during the earlier bubbles of the market, Jacob Kassay and Oscar Murillo More than $300,000 was translated to make auction prices. Final sale room prices for Yukhnovich, Matthew Wong and Avery Singer We added an extra number.

“The market has expanded since 2014,” said Wendy Cromwell, a New York-based arts consultant. “There are many more people and there is a lot of money in the system. There is competition for only a few artists and that leads to exponentially higher prices.”

The buyers of big-ticket contemporary art are also increasingly younger, Cromwell said. A new wave of participants in their 40s, 30s and even 20s, enriched by the heritage and technology economy, is transforming the market, he added. “There was a jolt of youth over who was buying the business and who was distributing it,” he said.

“The influx of younger, tech-savvy collectors” helped the auction house achieve record sales of $7.3 billion in 2021, with the number of bidders under the age of 40 increasing 187 percent, according to Sotheby’s year-end statement.

This is not surprising, given the market’s emphasis on youth and technology. Instagram As with many of today’s artists, interest in Yukhnovich’s work has been the main impetus.

“I ran into Flora on Instagram and I was definitely not alone,” said its director, Matt Watkins. paraffin Gallery in London holding a breakout solo exhibition of Yukhnovich’s paintings in 2019. Carey-Williams and young art historian Katy Hessel, great women artists account has 250,000 followers, they used to be key enthusiasts ArtForum’s Instagram accountWith 1.2 million followers.

“This gave him great visibility. Instagram was the most important thing,” Watkins said.

The next seven-figure auction prices drew a lot of attention to Yukhnovich, as did the artist’s move to the Victoria Miro gallery with her international client list and staff of global art stars.

Carey-Williams said that Victoria Miro will sell Yukhnovich’s works only to “considered collectors, who both the gallery and the artist are very confident that any purchase will remain long-term.”

The approach reflects the gallery’s tightly controlled representation of the highly respected Los Angeles-based artist. Njideka Akunyili CrosbyPrioritizing sales to public museums to boost Crosby’s critical reputation and exclude profiteers. Over the past six years, Victoria Miro has placed Crosby’s works in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art in Washington; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; taste; and other institutions. An important recent work by this sought-after artist has not been resold at auction since 2018, according to Artprice.

“By restricting access to new work, the auction market is being shut down. There’s no momentum,” art consultant Cromwell said, adding that many buyers who manage to get new works from sought-after artists have had to sign deals that mandated them to reject the source gallery first if they wanted to sell it.

While franchises in America and Europe are determined to limit sales of the most desirable young artworks to established collections, new buyers are forced to look farther.

Ghana, in particular, has begun to be perceived as a hotspot for emerging talent. Last year, the works of one of the country’s most prominent young artists, Amoako BoafoUp to $3.4 million was turned over at auction against gallery prices as low as $10,000.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Victoria Cooke, the film’s director. Gallery 1957is a franchise in Accra, the capital of Ghana, that represents local artists and showcases them internationally. “Even during the pandemic, there were collectors and gallerists here from Paris, the US and the UK. Lots of people are trying to go straight to the source,” he said, adding that the buyers were “a mix of collectors and speculators.”

“People can come and buy a studio here and turn things around,” Cooke said. “Unless you have a trusted person to advise you otherwise, this may seem like an exciting opportunity.”

Because there are only two big franchises in Accra (the other contemporary art gallery ADA) To act as the gatekeeper for Ghana’s talent, budding artists have turned to an international auction house to – hopefully – reach a less sketchy clientele.

In January, Phillips held the 10-day sales exhibit, in his role as a private sales broker rather than a public auctioneer.birds of the feather” at its headquarters in London. This rare venture by an auction house into the galleries-dominated “primary market”, featuring the last 18 works by six nearly unknown young artists from Ghana, was carried out in collaboration with Ghana. Artemartisis an artist collective based in Accra. All works sold for prices ranging from $4,000 to $12,200, according to Phillips spokesperson Anna Chapman, but declined to provide further details on these particular sales.

“There are a lot of people who come to Ghana to work with artists,” said Selasie Gomado, founder of Artemartis and director and seller of the collective. “We teach them the importance of contractual agreements so they can have long-term, sustainable careers. An artist can get a lot of attention and get nothing at the end of the day.”

Buyers of these modestly priced works by young Ghanaian artists at Phillips may or may not have the intention to turn them. However Those lucky enough to purchase Yukhnovich’s works at a similar early stage in his career continue to make money from it. painting in the artist’s graduate programIn 2017, it is estimated to sell for up to $470,000 at Christie’s Tuesday. The next day, at Sotheby’s 2020 study It carries an estimate as high as $270,000.

Like it or not, it’s this type of winning bet on young talent as much as the art itself that draws so many people into today’s art world.

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