Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Will The Golden Goose Lay An Egg? A Rotten One.

Notice the quote at the end of the story, "It had to sell." In the auction world, this amateur thinks..it didn't sell. My bet?, You can buy it tomorrow for a million and there won't be any buyers. Ahh, tulips again. Just a hunch.

Bloomberg News:Loeb Sells Koons Egg for $5.5 Million at Sotheby’s in New York
By Lindsay Pollock and Philip Boroff

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Sotheby’s sold a 7-foot-wide, blue- and-pink Jeff Koons egg owned by hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb for $5.5 million in its smallest New York contemporary art sale in six years.

“Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta)” was estimated to fetch $6 million to $8 million, a far cry from the $23.6 million his hot-pink “Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold)” made in November 2007 at Sotheby’s in New York. Tonight’s sale totaled $47 million, shy of the low estimate and down 87 percent, or $315 million, from a year earlier.

“There are a number of people who have serious investments -- emotional, art historical and financial -- in Jeff Koons,” said New York art adviser Cristin Tierney. “It had to sell.”

Nine of the 48 lots didn’t find buyers. The auction had a pre-sale estimate of $51.8 million to $72.4 million. Estimates do not include commissions, which are 25 percent on the first $50,000, 20 percent up to $1 million and 12 percent above $1 million.

Sotheby’s evening sale in May 2003 totaled $27.3 million. The year-ago auction made $362 million.

Koons Egg Sculpture To Test Art Market Waters
Forbes Magazine: Susan Adams, 04.29.09, 4:00 PM ET

When Sotheby's puts a seven-foot-wide magenta and turquoise Jeff Koons sculpture of an Easter egg on the block in New York May 12, will the international auction house wind up with egg on its face?

It's possible.

"I don't think it's going to sell," predicts Todd Levin, a former Sotheby's specialist who runs New York art advisory firm Levin Art Group. The auction house estimate of $6 million to $8 million is much too high given the worldwide economic crisis, says Levin. Plus the sculpture--a shiny, oversized replica of an Easter egg covered in foil and topped with a bow--is not one of Koons' more important works.

Only the auction will tell whether Levin is right. The sale is part of a run of auctions at Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips that are viewed as a test of the international market for Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art. Certainly, volume is down: The auction catalogues are far thinner than they were a year ago. What's questionable, however, is how low prices will go. And Koons is a bellwether of "blue chip" durability and value.

"Either the bubble has burst, or it will burst at these sales," says New York dealer Richard Feigen. He agrees with Levin that the egg is unlikely to find a buyer willing to fork over $6 million.

Attention-Getting Works
Koons, 54, became famous during the 1980s for his bold, post-modern works that included vacuum cleaners encased in Plexiglas boxes; a life-sized porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson with his pet monkey, Bubbles; and a series inspired by Koons' then-wife Cicciolina, an Italian porn star. Those works, created between 1982 and 1990, are the most valuable of Koons' oeuvre, says Levin.

The Baroque Egg With Bow comes from a later series called "Celebration" that Koons dreamed up in the mid-1990s and then executed later, after he located a foundry in Germany that could produce oversized sculptures of objects like hearts and balloons. The egg was made in 2008, one of a series of five, each in different color combinations.

The egg's seller, according to several sources, is Daniel Loeb, 47, founder of struggling New York hedge fund Third Point (Loeb did not return calls seeking comment). Since the contemporary art market started to deflate along with the economy, speculative collectors like Loeb have been selling off big-ticket artworks and eschewing auction paddles.

"The giant snapping sound you heard in the last six months was the sound of wallets closing," says Levin.

Over the past half-dozen years, the Koons market has been supported by big art-world players such as publisher Peter Brant, Manhattan real estate magnate Aby Rosen and Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, all of whom own works by Koons and therefore have a vested interest in making sure his prices stay high. As does Koons' dealer, Larry Gagosian, who sold the egg to Loeb in the first place.

But in this market, none of them may be willing to put up the cash. Two art-world players predict that Gagosian will not participate in the bidding.

Recession-Proof Artist?
Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art, insists that the egg will sell. Meyer points to the $23.6 million paid at Sotheby's in November 2007 for another piece in the Celebration series, Hanging Heart, and the $25.7 million a buyer paid in June 2007 at Christie's in London for a Koons balloon flower sculpture.

Even after markets started crashing, in February 2009, notes Meyer, Sotheby's sold a less crowd-pleasing wooden Koons sculpture in London for $4.1 million (the estimate had been $3.2 million to $4.6 million). "That was a far darker period," notes Meyer. "In February, everyone thought the world was coming to an end."

Since Sotheby's announced its evening sale inventory in April, says Meyer, he has received many inquiries about the egg. "There is a big waiting list for people who want to buy Jeff Koons," says Meyer.

There may be a list of potential Koons buyers. The question is, how much are they willing to pay?

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