Flash News : Patrick Drahi’s acquisition of Sotheby’s – Rudolf Stingel at the Beyeler Foundation – Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi


Patrick Drahi’s acquisition of Sotheby’s confirms the Art Market’s entry into the digital era of the 21st century”

thierry Ehrmann: “Patrick Drahi’s acquisition of Sotheby’s confirms the Art Market’s entry into the digital era of the 21st century. Artprice has always argued that the global Art Market – weighing roughly 90 billion dollars – was several decades behind in terms of digital culture and Internet”.

“So it’s great news for the Art Market and Artprice to see Sotheby’s – the only listed auction operator – being acquired bought by Patrick Drahi, a 55-year-old global entrepreneur with a portfolio of telecommunications, media and digital companies. The offer price, which represents a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on June 14, 2019, and a 56.3% premium to the company’s 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price, reflects Patrick Drahi’s genuine confidence in Sotheby’s capacity for exponential development via a digital mutation”.

Since 2000, the Art Market has enjoyed a period of distinctly virtuous growth, becoming an efficient market with a return on investment of almost 7% per year and a volume growth of 450%. For much of this period, the backdrop to this growth has been a savings environment of zero or even negative interest rates in the eurozone. Meanwhile, the market itself has evolved from roughly 500,000 art collectors after WWII to nearly 90 million Art Consumers today, the vast majority of whom are completely at ease with new technologies.

In his statement, the position of Sotheby’s CEO, Tad Smith, is perfectly lucid: he openly welcomes Patrick Drahi into the Sotheby’s family: “Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity. He has a long-term view with a proven track record in the field of telecommunications, media and digital companies and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner.”

Likewise, Domenico De Sole, chairman of the Sotheby’s board of directors, welcomes the move: “Following a comprehensive review, the Board enthusiastically supports Mr. Drahi’s offer, which delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders”.

Rudolf Stingel at the Beyeler Foundation

Born in 1956 in the Italian town of Merano, Rudolf STINGEL moved to New York City in 1987 where he still lives and works. For more than 30 years the artist has developed a prolific and highly diversified œuvre with a single field of reference… that of painting. In a very singular way, Stingel questions the traditional notions of what constitutes a painting. This involves addressing fundamental questions about the understanding and perception of art and about memory and what we might call the “ephemeral”, and he uses industrial materials or ornamental motifs as a means of formal exploration.

In addition to his abstract and photo-realistic series, he has created large-scale works in Styrofoam or cast metal and spaces covered in carpets or reflective silver insulation panels where the final state of the works exhibited is determined by visitor participation. The current exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler (until 6 October) contains elements from all of these tangents. Conceived on a room-by-room basis, the exhibition eschews a strict chronology as the works are chosen according to the features of each space. Some works and ensembles are new, including an installation in the foundation’s restaurant. After an exhibition at the Kunsthalle Zürich in 1995, this is the artist’s second exhibition in Switzerland. Stingel ranks among the Top 100 most successful artists in the world by annual auction turnover.

Luc Tuymans’ “skin” at Palazzo Grassi

In the framework of its cycle of monographic exhibitions of works by Contemporary artists initiated in 2012, the Palazzo Grassi has offered its 8th carte blanche to Luc Tuymans (born 1958). The exhibition (until 6 January 2020) represents the Belgian artist’s first solo show in Italy. The exhibition’s title La Pelle (The Skin) is inspired by Curzio Malapartes novel published in 1949 and it includes more than 80 works from the Pinault Collection, international museums and private collections. The hanging is described as site-specific, i.e. we move from one work to another according to a story Luc TUYMANS wants to tell us. It starts with a massive marble mosaic covering more than 80m² which reproduces his 1986 painting Schwarzheide, (the name of a WWII concentration camp). The black lines running through the mosaic represent the cuts prisoners were forced to make in their drawings to avoid confiscation. On the stairs, you encounter Secrets, a small portrait of Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and Weapons Minister. At the Nuremberg trials, Speer claimed he knew nothing about the final solution. The portrait shows him with closed eyes.

Luc Tuymans questions our relationship to images. Faithful to figurative painting, Tuymans is credited with helping to keep it alive in Contemporary art. His works dissect the past as well as aspects of daily life, often using existing images extracted from archives, the press, internet or videos. After focusing on and digesting a particular image for a certain period of time, Tuymans paints his interpretation of it in a single day with his own particular selection of light, cadrage, composition, and perspective. He then adds a title and leaves the visitor to reflect in front of his authentic falsification of a reality that is often traumatic and violent.

Three works by Tuymans will be auctioned next week in London ( 26-27 June 2019). Lot 17 in the Phillips catalogue is none other than the original Schwarzheide presented in the Venetian exhibition carrying an estimate of $1 to $1.2 million. In 2011, Luc Tuymans was Belgium’s most expensive Contemporary artist on the market. He has since been overtaken by Jan Fabre (1958) and Francis Alys (1959), but the London sales could change that order.