Borro’s Must See Sales in the August 2017 Auction Calendar

Classic cars are stealing the spotlight in the August 2017 auction calendar, with a 1970 Porsche driven by Steve McQueen being one of the main features. See the full list of auctions below our featured sales:

RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale – August 18-19

August 2017 Auction calendar

Source: RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s August sale takes place in California’s Monterey Peninsula. We anticipate this rare 1950 Ferrari 166 MM/212 Export pictured above will be a major draw of this auction.

The Pebble Beach Auctions – August 18-19

August 2017 Auction calendar

Source: Gooding & Company

This popular luxury car auction takes place on August 18th & 19th in Pebble Beach, California. The auction will be led by the Porsche 1970 917k which is featured in Steve McQueen’s movie Le Mans. The racing car comes in with a high estimate of $16m.

If you are interested in car auction financing, learn more here.

See the full August 2017 Auction Calendar below:


NameAuction HouseCategoryDatePlaceWebsite Link
California and Western Paintings and SculptureBonhamsFine Art and Antiques01/08/2017Los Angeles
HarrisburgMecumLuxury Cars03/08/2017Pennsylvania
World CoinsHeritageMemorabillia03/08/2017Denver
Houston 2017MecumLuxury Cars06/08/2017Houston
Fine ArtHeritageFine Art and Antiques08/08/2017Dallas
ComicsHeritageFine Art and Antiques10/08/2017Dallas
The Golden Age of BaseballChristie'sMemorabillia16/08/2017Online
MontereyMecumLuxury Cars17/08/2017California
Monterey 2017Russo & SteeleLuxury Cars17/08/2017California
WhiskyBonhamsFine Wine18/08/2017Hong Kong
Quail Lodge AuctionBonhamsFine Art and Antiques18/08/2017Carmel
The Pebble Beach AuctionsGooding & CoLuxury Cars18/08/2017California
MontereyRM Sotheby'sLuxury Cars18/08/2017California
AuburnAuctions AmercaLuxury Cars31/08/2017Indiana
WhiskyBonhamsFine Wine18/08/2017Hong Kong

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What Does the $110 million Basquiat Untitled Sale Mean for the Contemporary Art Market?

$110 million Basquiat Untitled Sale


The Astounding $110 million Basquiat Untitled Sale

On May 18, famed American painter Jean Michel Basquiat’s painting, Untitled sold for an astounding $110.5 million at Sotheby’s, making it the sixth most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. In this elite class of the art market, only ten other works have broken the $100 million ceiling. The $110 million Basquiat Untitled sale put him in the company of only five other artists whose work has gone for similar staggering prices including: Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, and Vincent van Gogh, among others. Sales that night for the Sotheby’s auction brought in $319 million. The original estimate for the sale that night was $211 million.

The sale of Untitled has been met with a lot of buzz from the art world and beyond. Given the amount of money the painting sold for, but also the circumstances surrounding it. Since the creation of the work in 1983, it has virtually remained unseen within a public context. This combined with the larger persona surrounding the artist only adds to this rarity of the situation.

What Makes the Sale Unique

While Basquiat’s work has gone to auction previously, there are only a finite number of his pieces that have been sold. This in turn has driven up both the cultural and monetary aspects of his art. Part of this is informed by the myth surrounding the artist himself who came to fame in the early 1980s. He died tragically of a drug overdose in 1988.

Another unique aspect of this historic sale is that Basquiat is the only artist of color whose work has broken this benchmark. The pieces that sold for over a $100 million prior to the May 28 sale have been all been white male artists. The $110 million Basquiat Untitled sale is helping to level the playing field for artists of color while also acknowledging the incredible legacy that Basquiat left behind.

The Buyer

The painting was sold to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, founder of Japan’s largest fashion mall, Zozotown. Maezawa who is an avid art collector, purchased another Basquiat painting in 2016 for $80 million.

Mazawa revealed via Instagram that he was the purchaser of the painting in a post. He said, “I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece. When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”

The 1982 painting features a magnetic blue backdrop with white around the edges and in the center, is a large head scrawled in black paint. The head’s features are outlined in various colors including blue, white, and yellow. The powerful painting has not been displayed before publicly, but that may change now that Untitled is in Miyazawa’s hands.

Basquiat Sales Continue

On June 29, more of Basquiat’s work sold at Christie’s for $8.4 million (£6.5M with fees; est. £4M–-£6M) according to the Art Newspaper. The works sold included a 1983 triptych from the artist. At this same sale, some of Basquiat’s former collaborator Andy Warhol’s work was also up for action. This included a collaborative piece made by both artists which sold for about $5 million dollars.

What the Sales Means for the Market?

With the global markets fluctuating, art always makes for a solid investment. However, only specific artworks have been able to reach the upper echelon of this elite marketplace. It is both the rarity of Basquiat’s work going on sale in these venues, as well as his legacy, that is helping to drive the price of it up. The sales of these pieces also indicates a shift in terms of contemporary art becoming a more sought after commodity.

According to the 2015-16 Art Market Report, “contemporary art generated a global auction turnover of $1.5 billion compared with $2.1 billion in the previous 12-month period.” This report points to a larger global trend in the overall sale of contemporary art. The $110 million Untitled sale is a groundbreaking moment for contemporary art; given the value of this piece, hopefully it will pave the way for works by other artists of color to sell for higher price points.
If you have a contemporary artwork that you’d like to put up for auction or borrow against, Borro can assist. Submit an inquiry today!

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The Challenges and Benefits of Contemporary Art Investment

Benefits of Contemporary Art Investment - Contemporary Art

Source: Borro

Before examining the challenges and benefits of Contemporary Art investment, it is important to pinpoint where in the art landscape this category falls. Auction houses and galleries split what the un-initiated might call ‘Modern art’ into three main periods: Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art. Impressionist art begins around 1880 and would include any artist working under that banner, with no fixed end date. This is more of a stylistic distinction than a temporal one. Modern Art broadly covers artwork from 1880 to 1945, though once again, this is a stylistic distinction. A Picasso painting from the mid-sixties, for example would be sold in a Modern Art sale, rather than a Contemporary art sale; as he produced most of his work in this period, he is a Modern Artist.

Defining Contemporary Art

The category of Contemporary Art is a large and all-encompassing one. The Contemporary period begins roughly at the end of the Second World War and centers around New York. The Second World War forced many artists and wealthy collectors to flee from the conflict, and gradually after the War it became undeniable that New York had become the epicenter of the art world. There is no fixed date for this shift and it was a gradual one. To further complicate matters auction houses often sell work in Post War and Contemporary sales, to reflect the fact that some of the work produced in the period immediately after the war, was stylistically more akin to Modern Art, than contemporary.

Benefits of Contemporary Art Investment - Modern Art

Source: Borro

Investment Value of Modern Art

The supply of Modern Art is very limited, as the artists sold in these sales have generally died. After an artist’s death, there is almost always an upsurge in their prices, as the volume of their work cannot increase significantly: though new works are often discovered in this period, due to the increase in price. This increase is in part because there is very little that can affect the reputation of a dead artist enough to alter their market value. This works as a double-edged sword for the investor; while a work by Van Gogh will never really decrease in value: unless the attribution is wrong, it is unlikely to leap in value in a short time.

What Causes Contemporary Art to Increase in Value?

Benefits of Contemporary Art Investment - Richard Prince

Source: The Met

Occasionally those who invest in Contemporary Art can find their works rocketing in value over night. One of the artists whose work has shot up in value in recent times is Richard Prince. Prince’s work is driven by the visual imagery of consumerist America. His works include his cowboy series: reworkings of cigarette advertisements that have seeped into the subconscious of the American public, reproduced simply on a large scale without the text. Prince is also known for joke paintings, where he has painted one liners simply and his series of nurse paintings.

The nurse paintings are a series of paintings based on the covers of cheap pulp novels. Prince scans the images, screen prints them and then paints over them. In 2003, this series was first shown at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York and you could buy a painting for $50-60,000. At this time, Prince was a well-established mid-career artist, but he hadn’t hit the big time. By November 2007, a painting in the series sold at sold at Christie’s New York for a staggering $6,089,000 – a hundred times as much as you would have paid for it in 2003. And though prices have fluctuated, these works have consistently achieved between $5-7,000,00 from the mid 2000’s until now. You would be hard pushed to find any way of achieving such a return in such a short time anywhere on the planet, especially if you want to remain on the right side of the law.

The Risk of Contemporary Art Investment

On the other hand, it is possible to lose a great deal of money on an art investment in an equally short amount of time. The art and advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, was one of the first to buy the work of the so called Young British Artists or YBA, most notably Damien Hirst. Saatchi also bought all the work of an Italian Contemporary Artist named Sandro Chia, that he could lay his hands on, vastly inflating prices. Then, a short while later, he decided to sell it all, flooding the market and causing Chia’s prices to plummet overnight.

Those who jumped on the Chia bandwagon, buying his work as it was the next big thing, will have lost money. Those who bought work earlier, because they liked it and it interests them are likely to have fared better, as though prices of Chia’ s work have never reached the peak they rose to while Saatchi was buying them up, they have returned to a reasonable level.

Some have accused Saatchi of deliberately flooding the market, something he has strongly denied: after all, what would he gain by devaluing his own holdings? It would be naive to suggest that he does not regard his art collection as a valuable asset, yet it clearly means more than just numbers on a balance sheet. Saatchi has often installed his newest purchases in his home, so he can spend time with them. In 1997, when the Royal Academy of Art in London showed his collection of YBA works in the now seminal Sensations show, he spent several days obsessively overseeing the installation of the works. In the case of Sandro Chia, Saatchi had most likely done what he had always done; buying art that interested him and then selling it, when it ceased to.

Intangible Benefits of Contemporary Art Investment

Benefits of Contemporary Art Investment - Charles Saatchi

Source: Daily Mail UK

Ironically Saatchi, who has been criticized by some for manipulating the art market for his own financial gain, offers us a clear picture of the benefits of investing in Contemporary Art, beyond the financial. It is possible for those of us even of much more modest means, to interact with Contemporary Art in a much more immediate and intimate way, than work produced in other older periods. By following new exhibitions and changes in the style and output of an artist or group of artists, one can feel much more involved with the work. In some instances, you may even be able to meet the artists themselves, and discuss the work; something it would be impossible to say about most Modern artists.

It is this relationship with the art and the artist, and the ability to be surprised by Contemporary Art that is so exciting. Contemporary Art also deals with the concerns and challenges we face daily, as after all Contemporary Art is literally art produced by our contemporaries; those who live in the same times that we do. Buying into this, the benefits of Contemporary Art can mean so much more than money; an investment of time, thought and feeling that ultimately can return so much more.

Do you have a Contemporary Art collection that you’re looking to maximize the value of? Submit an inquiry online or call 888-778-0156 to discuss your options.

About the Author

Huw is an experienced art storage and shipping professional with an art history background.

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Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 Review

You always think that you know what to expect from the Goodwood Festival of Speed. A plethora of Formula 1 stars, new cars being debuted and the noise (oh, the noise) of thundering horsepower screaming up the famous driveway. But Lord March and his team were there to delight and surprise in what was the 25th hosting of the annual show. Here is Borro Blog’s Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 review.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017’s Honouree

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017’s Honouree

Source: Author

And again, Goodwood displayed another stunning sculpture in front of the house, albeit this year, for the first time, it celebrated the life and career of an individual rather than a marque, despite it being Ferrari’s 70th year. No, we were treated to the 5 career stages of the enigmatic and mostly controversial Bernie Ecclestone. Despite his diminutive stature, Bernie always commands a huge presence wherever he goes, and walking into the relatively quiet Bonhams marquee, that was definitely needed.

Recapping Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017’s Auction

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 Review - Carrera

Source: The Drive


The auction houses haven’t really set the world alight in 2017, and nowhere was this more evident than here at Goodwood. Despite a healthy catalogue, the content was lacking in real pizzazz. With no proper “star car” to headline the sale, the silence in the room could only be put down to the lack of numbers present. Possibly buoyed by the prices that historic Porsches have been attracting of late, the headline car was a very pretty, but unremarkable 1957 356 Carrera Speedster. One of only 3 right hand drive cars built, the little Porsche lacked matching numbers and had been subject of a full restoration which included other, non-original, enhancements just a few years ago. Sitting there, it almost looked too new, and yet the bidding soared to £820,000/$1,059,686 when the car was hammered. Some £80,000/$103,384 less than its lower estimate. A true testament to people liking originality in their cars these days.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017

Source: Author

This seemed to be the theme of the sale. Whether estimates were set a little on the high side to attract more cars, who knows, but what was apparent was the room wasn’t buying that. Literally. Did this then mean there were bargains to be had? Well, in some ways, yes. If you can call £300,000/$387,690 a bargain, which was what the 1957 Aston Martin DB2/4 MKIII prototype made. Despite its ‘DP’ (Design Project) title, an entry in the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally driven by Raymond Baxter, and current ownership for 33 years, the baby blue Aston really deserved a much higher price in my opinion. As did the similarly-hued 1957 Porsche 356A Rally Car with no less than 4 Carrera Panamerica events under its belt. Just £44,000/$56,861 would have bought you that little gem.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 Review - Ferrari

Source: Author

Many commented that the RHD 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona looked good value at £480,000/$620,304 (lower estimate of £500,000/$646,150), but the fact remained that it had received a color change in its life (From Argento Silver to the predictable Rosso Corsa) and didn’t have any word of a Ferrari Classiche certificate to help authenticate it. Maybe not that much of a bargain then.

 There was the predictable array of “new-era” classics too with 2 Porsche 964-Type 911 Turbos, a 996-era car and a Ferrari Testarossa. I will stand by what I always say that these cars are still too new to be auction house stock, and will sell much better from a dealer’s showroom. Unfortunately, by their insistence of having them in their catalogues, all the auction houses have achieved is depressing the market for these cars through no-sales, or low hammer bids.

 However, fear not, as this was, refreshingly, an auction for true enthusiasts, and there was certainly enthusiastic bidding between our aforementioned celebrity and a determined lady who took the price of a lovely Series 1 Jaguar E-Type Roadster to £230,000/$297,229. This original RHD example became the Property of a Lady for sure.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 Review - Rolls Royce

Source: Autocar

Although significantly more expensive, the simply beautifully elegant 1914 Rolls Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Open Tourer once owned by Indian Royalty deserved every one of the £490,000/$633,227 it made. Great provenance and history will always outweigh shiny paint in my mind, and despite a restoration, this car oozed with tales of the Maharana of Udaipur, its illustrious first keeper.

All in all, the weather of the weekend was a real reflection of the sale. A bit overcast and dull, but with sunny spells in between. What is very evident however is that buyers are much more aware of values than ever before, and no-one is going to pay Grade A money for a Grade C car

Not even Bernie.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017 Review - Bernie at Auction

Source: Autocar

Bryan McMorran is a car industry specialist and is Abbeyfield Sports & Classic’s Founder & Director.

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The Usage of Freeports in the Art Industry

What are Freeports?

Conceived as a relatively simple device to allow traders to transport goods with greater ease, Freeports in the art industry have become a quintessential aspect in the 21st Century.  Freeports were created so goods such as tobacco or tea could pass through or be loaded onto another ship without importing the goods into that country and paying customs duties.

How Freeports are Used in the Art Industry

Freeports in the Art Industry - Geneva


The extremely high value of works of art in the 21st Century has made the opportunity to defer import taxes unmissable to collectors and dealers in a market which is increasingly global.  This system allows an art dealer to ship a painting to say Geneva and hold it in a sort of limbo where the customs duties are deferred.  While it is in the Freeport, the work can be easily accessed, to show to restorers, Auctioneers or prospective buyers.

The service offered in the major Freeports looks and feels the same as that offered by an Art Logistics company or an Auction House.  Your work can be seen in a private viewing room and will be unpacked and handled by Art Handlers working to the same standards.

The other key feature of the Freeport system is that canny operators have learned to conduct their business with the same degree of privacy offered by lawyers, banks and other facilities used by the wealthy.  Each work which comes into the port is carefully photographed, condition checked and examined, to avoid any disputes, but this information would remain entirely confidential.

While the exact quantity and nature of artwork being held in Freeports is a closely guarded secret.  We can confidently say that the artwork being held in Freeports globally is worth billions of dollars and includes works that any museum curator would love to add to his collection.  This is based on the accounts of those who have left the industry and other occasions when legal disputes have allowed us a glimpse behind the curtain.

Controversial Usages

In December last year, the Swiss authorities seized several artefacts, including pieces looted from Palmyra; a Unesco world heritage site, which was seized and severely damaged by the so called Islamic state in Syria. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has led to an increase in the looting of culturally significant artefacts and in some cases, those wishing to hide or sell these artefacts have used the veil of confidentiality offered by the Freeports to hide their crimes.

Freeports in the Art Industry - Yves Bouvier

Source: artnet

Another significant lawsuit concerning a Freeport was the case of Rybolovlev v Bouvier. Comity Rybolovlev was a Russian oligarch who had purchased several artworks from Yves Bouvier, who was running the Geneva Freeport and dealing in art on the side. The unprecedented access Bouvier had to the works being stored in the Freeport enabled him to offer Rybolovev works of art that were not publicly for sale.

Rybolovev has accused Bouvier of overvaluing the works of art he sold him, and the case is still ongoing.  What is most illuminating for us, is the staggering quality and price of the works Bouvier sold him.  Among the works Rybolovlev purchased was ‘Christ as Salvator Mundi’ by Leonardo Da Vinci, for which he paid $127.5 million and ‘Wasserschlangen II ‘ by Gustav Klimt, at $183.8 million.

Since purchasing these works, the art market has contracted to a degree and Rybolovlev has in some cases sold some of the works he purchased for a fraction of what he paid for them. Taking this into account, the sheer quality and value of these works is still amazing; even if we acknowledge Bouvier would have only shown Rybolovlev the best works held in his stores.

There has been a trend for serious collectors to display their collections, in recent years either as a loan to a major exhibition as this exposure increases a works provenance and value or in their own private museum.  This has led to some trying to unlock the untapped resource of works held in Freeports so the public can see them. There have been various schemes to loan works to museums, or even display them publicly at the Freeports themselves. These have largely failed as the benefits of holding work in a Freeport are at odds with the idea of displaying them.  For this reason, the works held in these ports are likely to remain in the shadows, outside the public’s reach.

Watching for New Freeports in the Art Industry

Freeports in the Art Industry - Arcis

Source: ARCIS

New York City will soon be joining the ranks of Geneva and Singapore with a Freeport slated to open in July 2017. The tax haven is being built by the storage company ARCIS. ARCIS reportedly went through a lengthy process to acquire the Free Trade Zone status needed for the Freeport. It remains to be seen if the arduous process will be a barrier to entry or if storage facilities will now flock to NYC to establish their own Freeports.

About the Author

Huw is an experienced art storage and shipping professional with an art history background.

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Borro’s Must-See July 2017 Auction Calendar

Borro previews the key auctions for the month! Fine art and cars are dominating the July 2017 auction calendar. See the full list below.

Sotheby’s Old Masters Evening sale – July 5th

July 2017 Auction calendar

Image Source: Sotheby’s

On July 5th Sotheby’s presents its Old Masters Evening sale in London. It will be led by Turner’s ‘Ehrenbreistein’ oil painting that has the highest estimate at $31 million.

Historics Brooklands Museum – July 8th

July 2017 Auction calendar

Image Source: Historics

This Historics Brooklands Museum auction takes place on July 8th in Weybridge. The top lot is expected to be this Aston Martin DB6 that has a sale estimate of $400,000.

Christie’s Exceptional Sale – July 6th

July 2017 Auction calendar

Image Source: Christie’s

On July 6th the Exceptional Sale by Christie’s takes London. These pair of Italian carved porphyry lidded vases have the highest estimate at $1.3 million.

AuctionAuction HouseVerticalStart DateLocationURL
Animation ArtHeritageFine Art and Antiques07/01/17Dallas
European Furniture and Works of ArtChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/04/17London
British and European ArtBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/04/17London
AntiquitiesChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
Old Master and British Drawings and WatercoloursChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
Old Master & British Works on PaperSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
TreasuresSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
Old Masters Evening SaleSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
Prints and MultiplesBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
Old Master PaintingsBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/05/17London
The Exceptional SaleChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17London
Old Masters Evening SaleChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17London
Einstein: Letters to a Friend Part IChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17London
The Celebration of the English Watch Part IV, George Daniels 20th Century InnovatorSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17London
Old Masters Day SaleSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17London
Madame Djahanguir Riahi ? Les ?uvres que j?ai aiméesSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17Paris
Contemporary Living Online: Prints, Photographs and DesignSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/06/17Online
AntiquitiesBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/06/17London
US CoinsHeritageMemorabillia07/06/17Orlando
Old Masters Day SaleChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/07/17London
Contemporary Art OnlineSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/07/17Online
Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist ArtChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/11/17London
Contemporary EditionChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/11/17Online
First openChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/11/17Online
English Literature, History, Children?s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of DarwinSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/11/17London
Fine Timepieces OnlineSotheby'sJewellery & Watches07/11/17Online
Modern British and Irish ArtBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/11/17London
Valuable Books and ManuscriptsChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/12/17London
19th & 20th Century Sculpture, including works from Cecil Howard?s StudioSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/12/17London
Asian ArtBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/12/17Edinburgh
The Collection of Raine, Countless SpencerChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/13/17London
19th Century European and Orientalist ArtChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/13/17London
Christie's Watches OnlineChristie'sWatches and Jewellery07/13/17London
The Art of China: Online Summer SaleChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/13/17Online
Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist ArtSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/13/17London
Fine and Rare winesBonhamsFine Wine07/13/17London
Christie's Wine Online NYCChristie'sFine Wine07/18/17Online
Real EstateHeritageProperty07/18/17Whitefish
Modern and Contemporary ArtHeritageFine Art and Antiques07/18/17Dallas
InteriorsChristie'sFine Art and Antiques07/19/17London
JewelleryBonhamsJewellery & Watches07/19/17London
Fine ArtHeritageFine Art and Antiques07/19/17Dallas
DenverMecumLuxury Cars07/20/17Denver
Space ExplorationSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/20/17New York
Jewels Online: Part IISotheby'sJewellery & Watches07/20/17Online
Space ExplorationSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/20/17New York
Home and InteriorsBonhamsFine Art and Antiques07/25/17London
American Art OnlineSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/27/17Online
La bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé - Musique et Poésie. Vente Pierre Bergé et Associés, en association avec Sotheby?sSotheby'sFine Art and Antiques07/28/17Paris
Movie PostersHeritageFine Art and Antiques07/29/17Dallas
US CoinsHeritageMemorabillia07/31/17Dallas

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What Borro Watched – June 2017 Edition

Pokémon Fever

Now here’s something you don’t see every day: The Romain Jerome Pokémon special edition. This bonkers brand has made a name for itself producing brightly coloured, endlessly playful, cartoonish fever dreams inspired by iconic games and TV shows. This one is one heck of a reach at $200,000, but the execution of the concept is about as flawless as I’ve seen.

Romain Jerome Pokemon special edition

Image supplied, courtesy of Baselworld

Creating the Romain Jerome Pokemon Special Edition

The vivid, joyful dial is decorated with a selection of the most popular Pokémon from past and present. Bringing this modern scene to life is an age-old technique known as Champlevé enamelling (roughly translating as ‘walled enamelling’). It’s a technique that requires recessed pockets to be filled with opaque vitreous enamel (which takes the form of powdered glass pre-firing), and then heated until the enamel melts and forms a solid block of colour. To get a good idea of how the masters of watchmaking do it, check out Vacheron Constantin’s Metiers d’Art collection.

Despite the fact the Romain Jerome Pokemon special edition is a one-off piece, the company has endured predictable criticism for having the gall to release such a highly priced novelty (and I mean that in the traditional sense of the word) in times of increasing industry austerity.

The finishing is superb; the dial is an exemplary example of a time-honoured craft, the lightning bolt bridge on the Tourbillon complication is achingly cool. But it all amounts to a simply insane piece that will, of course, find an owner, but perhaps not so many fans.

Romain Jerome Pokemon special edition blog - Konstantin

Image supplied, courtesy of Konstantin Chaykin

Starting a Dialogue

Pieces like the Romain Jerome Pokemon special edition are a bitter pill to swallow for many follows of our industry. And although I must confess I have no problem with these hyper-expensive whimsies, I do understand the gripes. Other industry experts, such as Ariel Adams of, have written about this subject with great eloquence. It would be interesting to continue the discussion in the comments section below.

In this middle month of the industry calendar, the time is ripe for pulling to pieces our own opinions and getting to the bottom of why certain watches have an ability to make us feel so intensely. Because that, after all, is why we love this industry in the first place, and understanding why we keep coming back for more can do nothing but inform our future purchases and the satisfaction we gain from them.

 About the Author: Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.

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Fewer Offerings but More Variety as London’s Summer Fairs Scene Evolves

London's Summer Fairs - PhillipsRonald

Source: Masterpiece London. A pair of Chinese Export Qianlong period Cantonese enamel wall sconces c.1750 from London dealer Ronald Phillips at Masterpiece London.

The Shrinking of London’s Summer Fair Season

London's Summer Fairs - Peploe

Source:The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia. Tulips by Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935) is priced at £250,000 from Simon Shore at The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia.

And then there were two. London’s summer fairs scene, that once stretched to half a dozen events beginning at the very start of June, is this year somewhat pared back. After five years, Art Antiques London has folded and instead the seven-day The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia kicks off the season from June 26-July 2 (preview June 26), running almost concurrently with Masterpiece London in the south grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (June 29-July 5 (preview June 28).

London's Summer Fairs - SKULL POMANDER

Source:Oliver Hoare. The Oliver Hoare exhibition, Every Object Tells a Story, held until July 5 in the former South Kensington studio of painter Sir John Lavery, includes this English silver skull pomander with the initials JR and dated 1628. Believed to have once been owned by James II, it is priced in the region of £175,000.

There’s no doubt the limited numbers reflect a traditional antiques trade under pressure. However, there are no shortage of events to sate the appetites of the dealers, collectors, curators and furnishers who have made London’s summer fairs their antiques-buying destination of choice for over half a century. This year, to paraphrase the song, the dealers are doing it for themselves.

London's Summer Fairs - Utere Felix

Source: Masterpiece.
This 3rd century Roman ring bearing the inscription Utere Felix priced in the region of $95,000 by Chicago and New York dealers Les Enluminures at Masterpiece London. The inscription means ‘use it with luck’.

While around 160 dealers exhibit in the National Hall at Olympia in its 45th year and 149 international galleries at the eighth Masterpiece fair, others will be hoping to draw London’s summer fairs crowd without the eye-watering expenses and the obvious restraints of a 10 by 10ft trade stand.

Ceramics enthusiasts, who for 30 years flocked to the International Ceramics Fair and later to Art Antiques London, will now find their quarry at a series of independent events. Rebranded and moved to a later date in the calendar, the collegiate selling exhibitions put on by Kensington-based ceramics dealers this year takes place from June 27-July 1. Formerly known as Eight Days in June, it is henceforth to be known as Kensington – The Heart of Ceramics.

London's Summer Fairs - Tomasso

Source: Tomasso Brothers.
This marble of Cupid with his Bow by Bertel Thorvaldsen c.1826-28 is priced in the region of £750,000 by Tomasso Brothers as part of the Canova and His Legacy exhibition during London Art Week. The 1.02m statute is accompanied by an original purchase receipt for 100 luigi d’oro dated 17 April 1828 from Thorvaldsen to Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, 6th Baronet Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire.

Three other dealers that would previously have been found at Art Antiques London – Brian Haughton, Christophe Perlés and Robyn Robb – will now join forces for a group exhibition titled A Collectors’ Paradise which runs from June 30-July 7 at Brian Haughton’s gallery. It follows the dates of the London Art Week initiative, the eight-day celebration of largely traditional or ‘pre-contemporary’ art in and around Mayfair and St James’s, which has put down substantial roots across its five years.

The organisation, which became a limited company late last year, is now planning a second event for the winter and pitching to a wider audience. Several shops and galleries, that might typically have patronised one of the top fairs are this year, prepared to fully commit. Around 50 will participate – some with bespoke exhibitions, all preaching the merits of buying or just window shopping in the gallery setting.

The Mayfair Art Weekend (the rebranded Brown’s Art Weekend of past years) operates with a similar raison d’être. In addition to its new name, this year’s event (June 30-July 2) sees a partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts, marking its 250th anniversary in 2018. It’s a coup to have an academic institution and 60 or more commercial shops and auction houses singing from the same hymn sheet; together they will ensure the art market’s focus remains firmly on London in the summer months.

About the Author

Roland Arkell (LinkedIn) is the Contributing Editor at ATG Media.  For almost two decades, Roland has been writing about the British and international art and antiques market for Antiques Trade Gazette, the leading publication for serious buyers and sellers of art and antiques.

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