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MARKET HEAT AT PHILLIPS|
In contrast to the disappointing results in its Impressionist and Modern art sales last week, Phillips' contemporary art sale of Nov. 13 was a resounding success, selling 45 of 47 lots for a total of $10.6 million, a hair above the high presale estimate of $10.4 million. Top lot of the night was Andy Warhol's Flowers (1964), which fetched $1,872,500 (est. $900,000-$1,200,000). British bad-boy artist Damien Hirst continued his winning streak, as In Love - Out of Love (1998) -- a four by eight foot butterfly painting -- went for $750,500 (est. $400,000-$600,000), an auction record for the artist. Other artists setting records in the sale are Sam Taylor-Wood, whose Soliloquy VI sold for $110,300 (est. $45,000-$65,000) and William Kentridge, whose Felix in Exile/History of the Main Complaint sold for $101,500 (est. $20,000-$30,000).
The sale was not without its anomalies, however. According to the auction catalogue, Phillips itself had a financial interest of some kind in 33 of the sale's 47 lots -- and, as reported by Carol Vogel in the New York Times, the house seems willing to sell some artworks at a loss in order to establish itself as a big-time player. For instance, Vogel reported that a Warhol self-portrait that sold at the auction for $453,500 may have been acquired by Phillips from a private dealer for $900,000.
In another curious turn, Vogel said that Christie's contemporary art department head Philippe Ségalot was the buyer of a second Hirst -- Dead Ends Died Out, Examined (1993), cigarette butts arranged in a vitrine -- for $508,500 (est. $300,000-$400,000). Needless to say, Christie's owner is François Pinault, long-time rival to Bernard Arnault, whose LVMH bought Phillips a year or so ago.
HAVANA BIENNIAL GETS UNDERWAY
The Seventh Havana Biennial opens at several sites in Havana on Nov. 17, 2000, with the theme of "Closer to the Other" and more than 170 artists from 40 countries participating. Though the exposition is largely a Southern Hemispherel event, many of the artists are familiar from the international circuit. Among them are Benni Efrat (Israel), Eugenio Dittborn (Chile), Guillermo Gomez-Pena (USA), Susan Hiller (England), William Kentridge (South Africa), Jac Leirner (Brazil), Annette Messager (France), Antoni Muntadas (Spain), Olu Oguibe (Nigeria-USA), Liliana Porter (Argentina), Navin Rawanchaikul (Thailand), Miguel Angel Rios (Argentina) and Iké Udé (Nigeria-USA). The Cuban participants include Abel Barroso, Juan Betancourt, Tania Bruguera, Marlon Castellanos, José Antonio Choy, Raúl Cordero, Carlos Estévez, Antonio Eligio Fernández (Tonel), Galeria Dupp, Juan Garcia, Luis Gómez, José Gómez Fresquét (Frémez), Los Carpinteros, Armoris Ordo, William Pérez, Estero Segura, and París Volta.
Concurrent with the Biennial is an auction of contemporary art to benefit the pediatric ward of the Havana Oncology Hospital, Nov. 15-Nov. 18, 2000. The sale, to be held at cultural center Casa de las Américas, features works ranging from painting and photography to video and installations from 73 artists. Visit http://www.casa.cult.cu/subasta for a complete list of artists and more information.
BLAME IT ON RIO
The millennial edition of the São Paolo Bienal finds itself in a serious predicament -- originally scheduled to open last April, the festival has now been postponed twice, prompting curator Ivo Mesquita to leave and six council members to resign, reports Celso Fioravante in Artforum. According to Bienal Foundation president Carlos Bratke, the most recent postponement from next spring to April 2002 is necessary because the Bienal Pavilion is in urgent need of repair and presents a safety hazard. But Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paolo president Milú Villela claims the decision is capitulating to the interests of previous Bienal president Cid Ferreira, who is raising funds for the competing Brazilian show, "Mostra do Redescobrimento," a historical survey of Brazilian art that includes planned stops at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao, as well as at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and London's British Museum.
In any case, Ferreira is working with the Guggenheim Foundation on a possible seventh branch of the global museum in Brazil. Guggenheim director Thomas Krens has announced the museum is focusing on Rio de Janeiro and Salvador as possible locations for the new branch. Salvador has reportedly lined up corporate sponsors -- the museum wants companies to foot the $300 million-$500 million bill -- while Rio has a stronger tourist draw. Other countries vying for the honor include Australia, Austria and South Africa. The winning city will officially be chosen in mid-2001 after a professional study.
AUCTION HOUSE LAWSUIT UPDATE
In the art-market story that never ends -- the antitrust actions against Christie's and Sotheby's -- lawyers representing over 100,000 clients in their class-action lawsuit against the two auctioneers have detailed how they propose to divide the $512-million settlement. Following a formula developed by economist Jeffrey Leitzinger, sellers would receive approximately one percent of the sales price of their offerings and buyers would receive five percent of the sales price on each purchase of $50,000 or less and a flat $2,500 for each purchase above $50,000, reports Carol Vogel in the New York Times. But the plans might have to wait, as the lawyers are also involved in discussions to increase the settlement to resolve claims by clients who conducted business with the auctioneers overseas, according to the Wall Street Journal. New York Judge Lewis Kaplan has not yet set dates for approval of the settlement and they could be delayed by the new discussions.
KOONS' PROTEST ART?
Jeff Koons delving into Dieter Roth-like fecal territory? Never, according to the New York Post's Page Six. Someone faxed a note -- accompanied with a "disgusting photo" -- to the infamous gossip column and to the Village Voice accusing the neo-Pop artist of defecating in the elevator of his old building at 600 Broadway after he was forced to move out when his studio rent was quadrupled to $40,000. But Page Six points out that Koons has an alibi -- the artist was out of town at the time, exhibiting new work at the Guggenheim Berlin.
HUGO BOSS PRIZE 2000
Installation artist Marjetica Potrc has been awarded the Guggenheim Museum's $50,000 Hugo Boss Prize, bestowed every two years to an artist whose work represents a significant development in contemporary art. The Slovenian artist, well-known abroad for her architectural installations made out of modest materials, competed against a short list that included performance-art pioneer Vito Acconci, conceptual prankster Maurizio Cattelan, the Scandinavian conceptual team Ingar Dragset and Michael Elmgreen, eccentric sculptor Tom Friedman, Post-Minimalist Barry LeVa and sculptor and performance artist Tunga. No exhibition of the finalists as in 1998, however. The show's former venue -- the Gugg's SoHo space at Prince and Broadway -- has been turned over to Prada for a new store.
"Committed to the Image," the Brooklyn Museum of Art's encyclopedic exhibition of 94 African American photographers, has been rescheduled -- the opening date has been changed from Feb. 2, 2001 to Feb. 16 and the show will run through Apr. 29.
The Whitney Museum of Art has named Debra Singer associate curator of contemporary art and Shamim Momin branch curator at the Whitney's Phillip Morris branch. Both appointees will work with curator of contemporary art Lawrence Rinder.
Brooke Hodge has been appointed new curator of architecture and design at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, effective Jan. 8, 2001. Hodge comes from the graduate school of design at Harvard University, where she is currently assistant dean for arts programs.
Betsy Ennis has been named the Guggenheim Museum's new p.r. chief now that the always-helpful Scott Gutterman has moved on to the Neue Galerie, late dealer Serge Sabarsky's new New York museum devoted to early 20th-century German and Austrian art.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech