Category: Sotheby's

Andy Warhol's Elvis Presley painting could sell for $50 million

March 16, 2012 |  7:38 am

"Double Elvis (Ferus)," left, and Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol would have another headline for his scrapbook. The prince of pop art’s portrait of Elvis Presley is set for the Sotheby's auction block and is expected to fetch $30 million to $50 million.

"Double Elvis (Ferus Type)," which shows the King as a cowboy shooting from the hip, will be offered in New York on May 9 as part of a larger Sotheby's auction of postwar and contemporary art.

The life-size painting from 1963 was exhibited at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles the same year and will show in L.A., Hong Kong and London before the spring sale. 

"Eight Elvises," also a 1963 silkscreen painting, sold to a private collector in 2009 for $100 million (that’s $12.5 million per Elvis), making it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold. 

Throughout his life, Warhol was obsessed with tabloids and celebrities, collecting newspaper articles of his favorite Hollywood stars as a teenager; later keeping clippings of himself in a series of 34 scrapbooks. 

"Warhol: Headlines,” an exhibit of Warhol’s tabloids turned fine art, is making the gallery rounds in Frankfurt, Germany, and Rome and will wrap its tour in the Andy Warhol Museum in his hometown of Pittsburgh in October.


Edvard Munch's 'Scream' headed for auction at Sotheby's

Van Gogh painting owned by Elizabeth Taylor sells at auction

Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter works bring in millions at auction

-- Jamie Wetherbe

Photos: "Double Elvis (Ferus Type)," left, and Andy Warhol, right. Credits: AP Photo/Sotheby's, left; Los Angeles Times, right

Christie's contemporary head Brett Gorvy on artists' royalties

October 19, 2011 | 11:20 am

The Times could not reach Christie's and Sotheby's on Tuesday in time for our first report on the class-action lawsuits brought against them by artists who are seeking resale royalties for their work as provided under a 1977 California state law. But Wednesday morning we received the following comments.

A Sotheby's spokesperson said: "We believe that we have meaningful defenses to the claims asserted, and they will be vigorously defended."

A Christie's spokesperson said:  “Although Christie’s has yet to be served with the complaint, it views the California Resale Royalties Act as subject to serious legal challenges. Christie’s looks forward to addressing these issues in court.”

Christie's declined to answer more specific questions, including one about whether artists who have work in the upcoming sales of material owned by software magnate Peter Norton -- whose foundation and collections manager are based in Santa Monica -- would receive the 5% resale royalty for their qualifying sales.

But in May 2010, Christie's Brett Gorvy, now the house's international post-war and contemporary head, did answer questions about the contemporary art going up for sale in the Michael Crichton estate. Assuming the Crichton estate was based (like the producer and writer himself) in California, would artists with works in the sale, such as Jasper Johns, have to be paid a resale royalty?

Here was his response, not previously published:

"I’m not sure. It’s not something that normally comes into being. The language of the California resale act is not exactly that clear. It’s not something which we have had much experience with."

He added: "I can tell you only from experience, we’ve yet to have a situation where this has actually been required to be paid."


An exodus of artwork from L.A.

CNET founder Halsey Minor sues Sotheby's

Artists sue Sotheby's and Christie's for resale royalties

-- Jori Finkel

Image: Christie's L.A. preview of the Peter Norton material showing work by Paul McCarthy and Jim Hodges. The material will be sold Nov. 8 and 9 in New York. Credit: Christie's 2011

Artists sue Christie's and Sotheby's for 'resale royalties'

October 18, 2011 |  7:01 pm

What do New York painter Chuck Close, L.A. artist Laddie John Dill and the estate of L.A. sculptor Robert Graham have in common? They are lead plaintiffs in a pair of class-action lawsuits filed Tuesday against the New York operations of Sotheby's and Christie's, alleging that the auction houses violated the California Resale Royalty Act.

The 1977 California statute, a rare attempt in the U.S. to provide visual artists with a financial cut of appreciating artworks they made but no longer own, grants artists 5% of the proceeds from the resale of their artwork under certain conditions. One is that the seller lives in California or the sale occurs in California. The law applies only to "fine art" -- defined as "an original painting, sculpture, or drawing, or an original work of art in glass." Editioned photographs and prints are not included. The rights provided by the law extend to the artist's heirs for up to 20 years after the artist's death.

Eric M. George of Browne George Ross LLP in L.A. filed the pair of complaints Tuesday in federal court, charging the auction houses with "failure to comply" with the law by not withholding this royalty for the artists and by routinely going out of their way "to conceal the fact of a seller's California residency."

Close, Dill and Graham's estate are plaintiffs named on both suits. The foundation of L.A. painter Sam Francis, who died in 1994, also appears as a plaintiff in the suit against Christie's.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a spokeswoman for Sotheby’s as calling the claim meritless. A spokeswoman for Christie’s told the paper that the auction house looks forward to debating the validity of the law itself in court.

The law, initiated by former California state senator and art collector Alan Sieroty, was inspired by European visual arts royalties like the French "droit de suite"  as well as the entertainment-industry model of residuals. The California Arts Council maintains information about the law on its website, as well as a list of artists that it is seeking for payment. Some artists like Ed Ruscha are known to be scrupulous about collecting their 5% of resales.

But both awareness and enforcement of the law have been spotty for years, which means that the art world will be following these proceedings closely. If successful, these suits could be more than a slap against Christie's and Sotheby's: They could affect how galleries with resale practices throughout California run their business -- or shift that business elsewhere.

An exodus of artwork from L.A.

CNET founder Halsey Minor sues Sotheby's

-- Jori Finkel

Photo: In 2000, bids are taken on Claude Monet's 'Nympheas' at Christie's auction house. Credit: Louis Lanzano / For The Times

Monster Mash: Seattle Art Museum loses director; new report from President's Committee on the Arts

May 11, 2011 |  7:50 am

Seattleartmuseum Resigning: Derrick Cartwright has announced he is stepping down as director of the Seattle Art Museum after just two years. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Executive recommendation: The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has issued a report aiming to encourage a buildup of arts education in the U.S. (Los Angeles Times)

Real-estate acquisition: The Museum of Modern Art in New York is buying the space occupied by the financially troubled American Folk Art Museum. (Wall Street Journal)

Sold: Art from the collection of dealer Allan Stone proved to be a top draw at a New York auction. (Reuters)

Honored: American artist Rachel Harrison has received the 2011 Calder Prize. (New York Times)

Middling: Works by Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol drew disappointing bids at a recent Sotheby's auction in New York, where Eli Broad was in attendance. (Bloomberg)

Elected: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has chosen Daniel Brodsky, a real estate developer, as the new chairman of the board. (New York Times)

Lawsuit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is suing a British collector to recover a $2.5-million painting. (New York Post)

Handy guide: "Museum Companion to Los Angeles" offers art lovers an overview of the county's many venues. (Los Angeles Times)

Flop: The Broadway production of "Wonderland" -- a re-imagining of "Alice in Wonderland" -- will close on May 15 after just 33 regular performances. (Playbill)

Rumor has it: Has Alec Baldwin dropped out of the film version of "Rock of Ages"? (Los Angeles Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: Neil Patrick Harris will host the Tony Awards ceremony on June 12 in New York.

-- David Ng

Photo: A view of the Seattle Art Museum. Credit: Kevin P. Casey / For The Times

Monster Mash: 9/11 Museum to add Bin Laden death; New York City Ballet ends contract dispute

May 4, 2011 |  7:50 am


Developing story: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum said it will incorporate changes to address the death of Osama bin Laden. (NBC New York)

Agreement: The New York City Ballet and its dancers have resolved their contract dispute. (Los Angeles Times)

Hard times: New York's American Folk Art Museum is losing its executive director just as the organization has missed an interest payment on $31.9 million in bonds. (Bloomberg)

Paying tribute: British sculptor Anish Kapoor has dedicated his new monumental art installation in Paris to the imprisoned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. (Agence France-Presse)

Really? A recent survey suggests that arts graduates are finding jobs and personal satisfaction. (USA Today)

On hold: San Diego has suspended about $630,000 in public arts funding as the city wrestles with budgetary problems. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Online project: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and are recruiting the public to help build an online database of information on victims of the Holocaust. (Associated Press)

Sold: A Sotheby's auction in New York has brought in $170 million -- near the low end of estimates -- for 44 works of art by masters including Picasso. (New York Times)

Windfall: Roy Roberts, a former executive at General Motors, has given a seven-figure donation to the Detroit Institute of Arts. (Detroit News)

Missing: A violin worth an estimated $23,000 was stolen from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. (San Francisco Examiner)

Also in the L.A. Times: Theater critic Charles McNulty weighs in on the Tony Award nominations; a look at "Re-Animator, the Musical," at the Steve Allen Theater.

-- David Ng

Photo: A view of ground zero in downtown New York. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

Three-day showing of Wayne Thiebaud paintings in Los Angeles

April 11, 2011 |  1:04 pm

Thiebaud Pies
Before they go up for sale at Sotheby's New York in May, 11 canvases and works on paper by Wayne Thiebaud are traveling to Northern and Southern California to go on public display and -- Thiebaud's specialty -- whet collectors' appetites. The highlights include assorted oil paintings of pies and cakes as well as a candy-colored pinball machine rendered by the artist, who has lived in the Bay Area for decades.

"These works will be a revelation to many people who have seen them in book reproductions but haven't seen them in the flesh," promises Anthony Grant, Sotheby's senior international contemporary art specialist, based in New York.

The artworks belonged to New York dealer Allan Stone, who gave Thiebaud his first solo show there in 1962 and died in 2006. According to New York Times critic Roberta Smith, Stone was "legendary in the New York art world for his obsessive collecting .... At one point he owned untold numbers of De Koonings and nearly 30 Bugatti automobiles."

Thiebaud.pinball Now Sotheby's is preparing to sell works from Stone's collection estimated together to be worth more than $30 million on May 9 in New York. The most valuable work from the group is expected to be a 1947 De Kooning, "Event in a  Barn," a busy abstraction with echoes of Gorky and Miró estimated at $5 million to $7 million.

The most valuable Thiebaud, of a total of 20 owned by Stone going up for sale, is expected to be Pies, 1961, featuring a bakery-style display of slices of pumpkin pie, cherry pie, lemon meringue and more. The oil on canvas (it's tempting to say meringue on canvas) is estimated to bring $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

But for now, anyway, the Thiebaud works can be seen for free. The Thiebauds will appear at the San Francisco Art Institute this Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. They will then go on display at Sotheby's Los Angeles office, 9200 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 170, from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

-- Jori Finkel


WayneThiebaudArtsLicensePlate California Hall of Fame names Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud's Pop art license plate design

Italy denies export license to Nazi-looted artwork


Images, from top: Wayne Thiebaud's Pies, 1961, oil on canvas, is expected to bring $2.5 million to $3.5 million at Sotheby's; Thiebaud's Four Pinball Machines (Study), 1962, oil on canvas, is expected to bring $700,000 to $900,000. Credit: Sotheby's

Italian courts deny American heir an export license for Baroque painting of St. Catherine looted by Nazis

February 25, 2011 |  1:15 pm

Strozzipainting Philippa Calnan, a former director of public affairs at the Getty, is now making news herself. After being reunited with an early 17th-century painting by Italian Baroque master Bernardo Strozzi that had been looted by the Nazis from her family's villa in Florence, the Beverly Hills resident was denied an export permit by Italian courts for the work.

She first learned about the whereabouts of the painting two years ago from Sotheby's Milan office. They had received the work on offer from a potential consignor and identified it through research as looted. Shortly after speaking to Sotheby's, she says she received a call from art-loss specialists with the Carabinieri, or Italian state police, inviting her to look at the painting in a back room at the auction house.

"When I first saw the painting, tears welled up in my eyes," says Calnan. "It's a big and very beautiful painting, and I almost felt the presence of my grandfather coming down from above and saying: 'Now it's up to you.' "

Click here for the full story on her quest to recover the painting.

--Jori Finkel

6a00d8341c630a53ef0148c84e7c35970c-500wi J. Paul Getty's J.M.W. Turner masterpiece is final as sale clears final export hurdle

Jewish banker's heirs sue Hungary for return of looted art

Getty Museum ready to buy J.M.W. Turner masterpiece for $44.9 million -- if Brits won't match the price

Getty's prized purchase to stay in England -- at least for now


Image: St. Catherine of Alexandria by Bernardo Strozzi. Courtesy Philippa Kalnan.


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