Art Basel, one of the most important art fairs of the year, returned to its regular June dates in its original home city in Switzerland after a series of pandemic-induced cancellations and postponements over the past two years. This year’s fair featured 289 top galleries from around the world, many of which had selected works from their most highly sought-after artists for the occasion.
Because Art Basel Basel (as art world insiders refer to the fair) is widely considered the most important and prestigious of art events, it offers the exhibiting galleries an invaluable opportunity to display the most desirable works from artists on their rosters to the world’s top collectors, investors, and dealers. Elite mega art galleries such as White Cube, David Zwirner, Xavier Hufkens, and Hauser & Wirth, presented works by blue-chip artists from their rosters who have firmly established markets such as Alice Neel, George Condo, Damien Hirst, Kenny Scharf and Glenn Ligon, all artists featured in Yieldstreet’s Art Equity Funds.
Unlike auctions, sales at an art fair are technically private, but The Canvas enjoys insider access that allows us to evaluate these sales and what they portend for the individual artists’ markets in question. Below, we take a look at how some of the more prominent artists featured in Yieldstreet’s funds did at this year’s fair.
Following the blockbuster 60-year retrospective Alice Neel: People Come First, which took place last year at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Guggenheim Bilbao before that, popularity for Neel’s politically charged portraits has only continued to grow. In her work, Neel captured the souls of those closest to her, especially the female figures in her life. ‘Elizabeth,’ painted in 1984, the year of Neel’s death, captures the artist’s granddaughter — a recurring subject throughout the artist’s oeuvre. This portrait was sold by David Zwiner to a private collector in the United States for $3.5 million, purportedly surpassing Neel’s auction record which was set for her 1966 work, ‘Dr. Finger’s Waiting Room’ last May, when it sold at Christie’s for $3 million against its pre-sale estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. The fact that a gallery was able to place ‘Elizabeth’ with a private collector for a price that exceeded her auction record by half a million dollars in just over year is a good indication that demand for her work remains particularly high among deep-pocketed collectors and that a new price floor has been established for strong examples of her work.
Meanwhile, Kenny Scharf’s ‘REDISH’ (2022) sold for a price between $140,000 – $160,000 at Almine Rech’s booth. While Scharf is not as widely known as his friends and contemporaries, Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, and Keith Haring, the work of this ‘80s artist is rising in popularity overall, and Scharf’s steadily rising prices reflect his growing stature in the eyes of the market; especially among a younger generation of collectors who gravitate toward the artist’s graffiti-inspired aesthetic. In July 2021, Artsy highlighted Scharf as an artist who had one of the biggest jumps in demand from collectors on their platform, as his market more than tripled in demand from the month before. Scharf has also seen recent success at auction. In July 2021, a new auction high was established for his spray paint on canvas ‘Red Ball Jets and Orangetricity’ (1983) which sold for £400,000, ten times higher than its £40,000 low estimate at Christie’s.
George Condo also continued to prove a strong draw for many collectors at Art Basel this year. Recently, Condo has also increased in popularity among Asia-based collectors. As an artist who enjoys a particularly deep pool of interest, spanning a wide range of collectors with varying tastes, two separate galleries enjoyed successful sales at Basel. Condo’s painting ‘Red and Gold Profile’ (2022), offered by German gallery Sprüth Magers, sold to a US collector for $1.55 million. The global mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth, which has 18 locations around the world, sold Condo’s ‘Large Reclining Nude’, also from 2022, for $2.8 million.
Hauser & Wirth also successfully sold works by other Yieldstreet Art Equity Fund artist Glenn Ligon. Ligon’s recent work ’Stranger #94’ (2022) sold for $2 million, which should come as no surprise to observant Yieldstreet investors because a work of the same series recently sold in the New York marquee auctions last month for $1.56 million, doubling its $800,000 high auction estimate.
And finally, the London-based White Cube gallery saw success with two works by its longtime stalwart, artist Damien Hirst. ‘No Love Found’ (2008) a piece composed of stainless steel, glass, and cubic zirconia, which sold for $1.5 million; while ‘Lost Friends’ (2010) sold for $650,000.
In addition to tracking the performance of the artists in our Equity Funds in the private markets, we also perform regular appraisals of the works in the funds. We’re pleased to report that the works in the Art Equity Fund I were appraised 6 months post-acquisition and their fair market value is now 24.3% higher than the prices at which the works were purchased. This Fund consists of thirteen works by Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, George Condo, and Damien Hirst.
As economic uncertainty continues, we expect our investors to have questions about how this might impact the art market. Rather than generalized assurances that the art market overall continues its momentous growth trajectory, we strive to bring you the hard data about the individual artists in the Art Equity Funds so that investors can make informed investment decisions. The Canvas’s insider access to the private sales from the largest art fairs gives Yieldstreet investors unique insights and information about how these artists are performing in the market. And while the May/June New York Marquee auctions provided a strong foundation to analyze these artists’ market landscape, the upcoming London auctions this week will allow us to see how these trends, upheld by the private sales at Basel, will continue to unfold, especially as the broader financial markets continue to adapt to rising interest rates and rapid inflation.
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