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Sales highlights: Art Basel Miami Beach
Financial Times

by Gareth Harris


Pre-election market jitters appeared to have calmed at the VIP preview of Art Basel Miami Beach on Wednesday, when dealers breathed a sigh of relief after making some substantial sales.


“Spending money on art is not a priority, perhaps, in the present climate,” says Norwegian dealer Eivind Furnesvik of Standard (Oslo) gallery. “But the trick is to have a diverse portfolio.” He had sold a resin and fibre glass piece by Alex Hubbard, “Untitled” (2011), priced at $95,000.


“The market is less frantic than it was,” says New York-based dealer Sean Kelly. “Trump will probably be good for the commercial art world.” Almost all of the works on Kelly’s stand were sold at the preview, including Cuban collective Los Carpinteros’s video “Conga Irreversible” (2012), which was bought by Pérez Art Museum Miami for $60,000. A painting by Hugo McCloud, “Veiled Love” (2016), was also snapped up for $45,000.


“We’ve seen many US collectors, some Europeans and a bunch of South American buyers,” said New York dealer Jack Shainman. Showing Kerry James Marshall’s 2016 painting “Untitled (curtain girl)” at the fair was a canny move. With a critically acclaimed show currently running at the Met Breuer in New York, Marshall is in demand. “We sold the work for $600,000 to a US collector,” says Shainman. “The waiting list for his works is vast.”


Appearing at the Venice Biennale also boosts an artist’s standing. A mixed-media piece by Mark Bradford (“Slapping the Daily Prophet”, 2016) priced at $2m was sold by Hauser & Wirth gallery; the Los Angeles artist will represent the US at the world’s most prestigious exhibition next year. Erwin Wurm, represented by Lehmann Maupin, is Austria’s biennale choice, alongside Brigitte Kowanz; an edition of Wurm’s large-scale sculpture “Big Disobedience” (2016) sold to Aventura Mall, a luxury shopping complex near Miami.


Galerie Max Hetzler sold two works by Bridget Riley — “Rose Gold 2” (2012) for $800,000; “Harlequin” (2016) for £70,000 — confirming the veteran British artist’s blue-chip status. At Pace gallery, a multimedia work by Leo Villareal entitled “Cloud Drawing” (2016) sold for $85,000 within the first half hour of the fair.


But it’s not just about securing sales, says Max Mayer of the eponymous Düsseldorf gallery. He is showing one work in the Positions section of the fair, a sculpture called “Parts-whole” (2016) by Melanie Gilligan, comprising two cubes incorporating 12 different videos. Exhibiting a single work is a risk at an art fair, but “putting on an exhibition and meeting other significant art world people is key”, he says.