Flash News : Joan Miro – Gaetano Pesce – Comic Books in Paris



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Joan Miro – Gaetano Pesce – Comic Books in Paris

85 Joan Miro retirés

The sale of 85 works by Catalan artist Joan MIRO was scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday 4-5 February 2014 at Christie’s in London. This unprecedented sale had been hotly anticipated (Eighty-five Miro works at Christie’s) , but new developments have forced Christie’s to withdraw the works from sale. The works have been the property of the Portuguese government since the Banco Português de Negócios was nationalised in 2008. The proceeds from the sale were intended to replenish the Portuguese national coffers. However, the announcement of the sale caused uproar in the country’s cultural circles and among some opposition politicians. Opposition legislators took the matter to court in an attempt to gain an injunction to stop the sale, but this was not granted. Despite this, Christie’s decided it was better to keep a low profile and avoid any risk, particularly with regard to the transfer of legal title for the works in question.
According to estimates, the sale should have brought in at least £30 million ($50 million), with prices starting at £10,000 ($16,000) for early drawings and rising to £7 million ($11.5 million) for the best paintings. This is quite a blow to Christie’s revenues – this $50 million is the equivalent of a whole year of art sale revenues in Japan ($53 million in 2013).

Gaetano Pesce: the maturity of design

Gaetano PESCE recently hit a new record at auction with one of his most famous and impressive works, the huge prototype of the Moloch lamp, a 360-cm-high floor lamp created between 1970 and 1972. On 17 December 2013 in New York, Philipps gave it a particularly attractive low estimate of $60,000. In the end, the Moloch giant sold for $100,000 more than its estimate, achieving a final hammer price of $160,000. The Bracciodiferro 20-piece limited edition of this same lamp had already been valued in the $100,000-$150,000 range. So it is hardly surprising that the prototype shattered its estimate last December.

From 5-15 February 2014, Sotheby’s is dedicating an exhibition-sale to the master of Italian design at the Galérie Charpentier in Paris. The 38 exhibits all have a unique character, reflecting the principle of differentiation that lies at the heart of Pesce’s creative process. Alongside a few drawings, the exhibition will include several versions of his iconic UP chair, a model of his famous Rag Armchair from 1970 and a Sansone table (valued at $20,000-$50,000 in 2007-2010). 40 years on, Pesce’s humanist and creative designs remain utterly contemporary. Proof of this is provided by the success of the Fernando & Humberto CAMPANA brothers, two Brazilian designers with a similar mindset to Pesce. They have broken through the $100,000 barrier four times with their Sushi series created in the 2000s. Admittedly, these works were sold between 2007 and 2009, since when the ultra-contemporary design market has run out of steam. Nevertheless, many 19th-century pieces continue to perform well, proving that there is still a level of demand that goes beyond the speculative momentum of recent years.

More and more comic books in Paris

Nowadays, a few wealthy comic book fans are prepared to buy rare comic book plates for the price of a small work by Georges Braque or Fernand Léger. In the West, the comic book market has two main hubs: Belgium (Namur and Brussels) and France. In France, the specialist auction houses in this genre are Artcurial (since 2005) and Millon & Associés (since 2009). With two or three sales a year, Artcurial is the market leader in this booming sector. In 2012 it broke the million-dollar barrier when it sold a piece of HERGÉ‘s original cover artwork (Les aventures de Tintin et Milou. Tintin en Amérique, pour la couverture Les aventures de Tintin reporter du petit vingtième en Amérique, sold for €1.108 million or $1.37 million on 2 June 2012) and it has also achieved record six-figure sales for works by André FRANQUIN, Hugo PRATT and Enki BILAL. As a result, it is hardly surprising that Christie’s is taking an interest in this promising market. The auction house is holding its first comic book sale on 5 April 2014. On offer are 250 lots, including Uderzo’s original cover of the Asterix and Obelix book Le Devin; the original cover of L’héritage, the first special edition featuring Spirou and Fantasio by Franquin; plus works by Peyo, Jacobs, Pratt, Moebius, Tardi, Bilal, Gibrat and many more. Total sales are expected to reach some €1.5 million or $2 million. If this initial foray proves to be successful, Christie’s is planning to hold another comic book sale in April 2015. This could inject yet more momentum into the already booming comic strip market.