70 Ceramics and Sculptures by Picasso to Sell in February

‘Woman with an Open Robe’ by Pablo Picasso. Ceramic jug. 1955. Estimated worth between $52,500 and $67,500.

You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the epic artist Pablo Picasso and his infamous paintings. But lesser known are his large collection of ceramics and sculptures.

Most people don’t know that throughout Picasso’s career, he hand-molded and painted roughly 4,000 pieces of pottery. These pieces vary from vases and plates to animal figurines. Some he created as stand-alone pieces and others were produced in various editions.

‘Owl’ by Pablo Picasso. Painted ceramic. Estimated worth of $44,700.

70 of these pieces are now going up for auction come Feb. 5 at Sotheby’s in London, being sold directly by Marina Picasso, his granddaughter. A portion of the collection will be exhibited in Sotheby’s New York during January to bring awareness to the London sale.

Along with the sculptures, Marina will also be auctioning off roughly 110 drawings.

Interest in and prices for these ceramic works have been soaring as of late. In February 2015, one sale of a terra-cotta figure set the record for Picasso’s ceramics when a collector paid Sotheby’s $1.9 million. The work was expected to sell for a third as much. In June 2015, a group of 126 ceramics from the collection of Ms. Picasso was sold at Sotheby’s for $19.4 million, again selling for roughly three times as much as  estimated.

Notable works in the upcoming sale include “Woman with an Open Robe” and “Bird,” both pictured here.

‘Bird’ by Pablo Picasso. 1957. Estimated worth between $9,000 to $12,000.

The pottery for sale was mostly created between the late 1940s and the mid-1960s, before Picasso moved away from pottery to begin working in bronze. The drawings being sold, though, span Picasso’s entire career.

Some of the pieces up for sale carry astounding starting estimates as high as $269,000, such as a 1962 paper cutout of a woman’s face (seen below) that was used to develop Picasso’s sheet-metal sculptures of “Sylvette,” a subject seen repeatedly in his work.

‘Head Face’ by Pablo Picasso. 1962. Starting estimate worth of $269,000.

What’s even more interesting about these Picasso ceramics auctions is the fact that their prices have been increasing even as prices across the market have been plateauing. According to the auction-tracking firm Artnet, the average price for Picasso’s ceramics have increased from a respectable $16,100 in 2012 to a whopping $35,300 in 2015. Who know’s what these auctions will reach now that we’ve entered 2016.

Part of the reason for the high demand is the fact that, relative to Picasso’s other works, his ceramics are actually at a decent price point. This means long time fans of Picasso can add an original piece to their collections without spending top dollar. (For comparison, Christie’s sold his “Women of Algiers (Version O),” painting for $179 million last May.)

The price point is also particularly attractive to novice collectors looking to get a few big name pieces into their collection without draining their budget before they are able to add other important pieces to their portfolio. As evidence, at a similar auction back in March 2015, it was reported that 62% of the auction winners were first-time buyers of Picasso’s ceramics.

It’s great to see novice and seasoned collectors alike getting excited about these special pieces from one of the greatest (and certainly most famous) artists of all time.

Art Collecting: Beginners Guide to Starting an Art Collection

art-collectionArt collectors around the world know that first and foremost, art is about passion. Art collectors tend to hold their collections near and dear to their hearts because chances are if they chose to invest in them, it’s because they have a personal connection with them. That being said, you shouldn’t sink your money into anything that can give your heart that familiar tinge of emotion. You should do your research, consult with the right people, and make sure that your purchase makes financial sense for your individual circumstances. But, you should be passionate about the art you’re investing in. Don’t buy art to impress others or because you want a big pay off when it appreciates in value. Buy art because you enjoy it.

First time buyers are often not sure where to start. And understandably so. Collecting art is in itself an art form. Here are some quick tips to help you when you’re just starting out in the art buying world.

Establish a realistic budget from the get-go.

It’s easy to get caught up in a high-priced passion piece and blow your budget before you’ve even gotten started. Decide from the beginning how much you’re prepared to spend and how many pieces you would ideally like to have. Make sure to factor in figure costs into your budget such as framing, maintenance, and insurance. You’d be surprised how much that can add to your total cost.

Think long term.

Once you find a peace that speaks to you, make sure it fits within your long term collection goals. Each piece should have a meaningful place in the overall purpose of your collection. What you buy today should be enjoyed for years to come. It shouldn’t be looked at as a short-term profit unless you’ve found an up and coming talent before you believe they’re about to hit it big. This can be a fun and lucrative exception.

See as much art as possible.

Part of being a beginner is learning the ropes. There’s no better way to begin understanding the art world and start forming opinions about what you would like in your collection than by seeing as much art as possible. The more you see, the better you’ll understand what’s out there, what it costs, and most importantly, what you like. Find out where your local galleries and museums are. Subscribe to an online art publication or magazine. Attend a few art fairs. These are all great places to start.

Don’t rush.

Waiting to buy your first piece can feel like waiting to open presents on Christmas morning. It’s an exciting and engaging process, but don’t buy the first pretty thing that comes along. Wait for a piece that you truly love and want to spend years admiring.

Make sure you understand the buying process.

Are you buying a new piece for sale directly by the living artist or are you buying it from a collector at an auction house or gallery? Make sure you understand the fees involved in the transaction. Galleries usually take their fee from the seller, but auction houses can charge an additional 20 – 25 percent buyer’s premium.

Do your research.

Before you agree to buy, make sure you learn as much about your potential piece and it’s creator. The gallery or auction house can likely fill you in on many of the details, but don’t shy away from doing your own research back at home. You may also want to consult a professional advisor who can estimate the long-term value of the piece.

Compare the price to similar works.

If you aren’t sure what a fair price is, chances are you’ll get a better idea by looking at the selling price of comparable works by the same artist. You can obtain this information from the auction house or gallery or from the online auction records of Christie’s, Sotheby’s or Phillips. Another great tip: you can sometimes find more reasonably priced art at charity auctions and studio tours.

Don’t hesitate to seek a professionals opinion.

Art advisors make a great living at what they do for a reason: people need professional guidance. If you’re unsure or having serious doubts about a potential purchase, by all means meet with an advisor. Not only will they make sure you’re not making a poor investment, but they’ll also be able to guide you to similar pieces and artists based on what you have shown an interest in. They have insider knowledge that takes years and sometimes decades to acquire. Take advantage of every resource you have, and you’ll be sure to sleep soundly knowing you’ve made the right choice.

 

Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to a collection that you and your loved ones will adore. As the writer Chuck Klosterman once said, “Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.”

Rare Swatch Collection Sells for CHF 1.3 Million

Swatch by Keith HaringA rare collection of 1,000 original watches by Swatch were recently sold by Sotheby’s at a Geneva auction for CHF1.3 million ($1.3 million). The collection was comprised of the timepieces created in the brands most popular period in the 1980’s. The brand was so popular that it’s credited with saving the Swiss watchmaking industry.

The collected had been stored in an attic in canton Neuchâtel for years. It included 380 prototypes, as well as technical drawings, dials, sketches, and artwork spanning the 1981-1986 period. It belonged to the Swiss designers Bernard Müller and Marlyse Schmid, who were responsible for creating much of Swatch’s iconic visual identity in the early 1980s alongside Müller’s engineer brother Jacques.

The Schmid & Müller collection is a delight for collectors and appreciators. As Sotheby’s watches department manager Pedro Reiser explained,

It’s very rare to have such an extensive collection. This completely unique and historic selection of timepieces, components, and designs maps out the creative process during the fascinating early years of Swatch.”

Swatch was founded because it’s creators saw the need for a Swiss-made plastic watch that didn’t sacrifice quality while hitting an affordable price point. It’s development required technical innovation, with each watch only having 51 parts, as opposed to nearly 100 needed to make a traditional wristwatch. This reduction in parts allows it to be produced for 80% cheaper and assembled using a fully automated system.

For us the challenge was to establish plastic as a noble product,” said Müller. “Among the various components, the watch dial was the most expensive piece. This initially meant we were only able to use one or two colours at most. Swatch’s almost instant success allowed us free reign with our creativity, enabling us to change the look in an infinite number of ways following new fashions and trends.”

The Schmid & Müller collection contained a number of iconic pieces, including the original Jellyfish Swatch — the first transparent watch that started the trend of see-through watch movements. It was designed by Marlyse Schmid, and it was part of a 200 piece limited edition.

It also included original prototypes from the “Swatch Art Special” series, including the first model featuring artwork by “Kiki Picasso.” At the height Swatch’s popularity at the end of the 1990s, a single model sold for CHF60,000.

Another highlight was a series of models and artwork by US artist Keith Haring, who took two years to come up with his 1986 collection of six designs.

There’s been renewed interest in vintage watches as of late. Back in April, Sotheby’s auction house in Hong Kong sold one of the biggest private collections of Swatch watches in the world. The collected contained 5,800 timepieces that had been collected over a period of 25 years. It sold for $6 million.

Müller hopes that his collection is able to stay in one piece and enrich other Swatch collections.

Estate Planning for Your Art Collection

art-collectionsAs an art collector, a good rule of thumb is to buy what you like, not what you expect to appreciate in value at the fastest rate. First and foremost, it’s a collection and something to be appreciated and enjoyed. Secondarily, it’s an investment. And when it comes to investments, there’s always one tricky thing to figure out: inheritance. An increasingly important part of estate planning is figuring out what will happen to your art when you are no longer around to appreciate it.

One problem many heirs run into when they inherit pieces or an entire collection is unwanted tax consequences, especially if the person isn’t related to the collector or simply isn’t as personally invested in the art as the owner once was. While the owner may feel a strong responsibility towards their art, it’s not necessarily going to resonate with their children or loved ones as much as it once did them. Family’s run into unintended challenges when resources have to be allocated towards something the collector is no longer around to cherish.

Luckily, there are specialist advisers well equipped to handle such issues. They have a deep understanding of tax law in estate planning and philanthropy as they apply to each country and it’s unique tax codes.

This vocation requires a specific background and niche expertise not just because of it’s complexity, but because it’s difficult to put a price on art. The value of art actually changes depending on your use for it. If you’re going to keep it, give it away, or lend it to an institution, you’re going to have different goals and priorities in mind.

For example, if you want to pass your Cezanne on to your children, it’s actually better for it to be valued as low as possible. Transfers to heirs are taxed at very high rates in most countries if the estate or gift amount is of a large enough value. You can appraise a piece of art for less for gifting purposes because it is illiquid, and there may not have been comparable sales in recent years. Because a precise value for the work is hard to gauge, tax authorities are likely to accept a low estimate, but it must come from an independent appraiser. Keep in mind, rules on valuation and tax treatment vary from country to country.

Lack of liquidity can sometimes help and sometimes hurt in estate planning. When you sell, the transaction occurs in a public market and is recorded, creating a potential taxable event for the new owners.

One complication comes when an illiquid asset generates a liquid liability. Say a collector’s heirs inherit $15 million of artwork and the same amount of liquid assets, as well as a $15 million estate tax bill. They can either sell the liquid assets to pay the bill which will leave them with all their wealth tied up in art, or they can sell the art.

Financial advisers often come up with complicated techniques for transferring ownership of art without transferring the art itself. For example, collectors can sell art to heirs and then lease it back to them, but the tax break, depends on a jurisdiction’s legal framework.

Another complication comes from a feature of many tax codes that state that property can be subject to estate tax wherever it is located when the owner dies. So, if you normally reside in Switzerland and decide to bring our Warhol to Quebec to hang in your second home, but die during your layover in Chicago, the United States will assess estate tax on the value of the Warhol. Even worse, because you are not an American citizen or resident, only the first $60,000 of the piece’s value escapes taxes, instead of the $5.43 million that is exempt for American citizens.

Another area of concern for art collectors is that of tax-efficient philanthropy. When giving art to an institution, you want to appraise in the opposite direction from which you would gift. In this case, it is best to get as high an estimate of valuation as possible in order to maximize the tax write-off. There is also a case where a collector may maintain ownership of an artwork for a given period, while lending their work to an institution. Under American law, a collector can lend work to an institution and take a prorated charitable deduction, but the collector must give the work away entirely within 10 years or at death (whichever comes first.)

Each country has its own set of rules and regulations towards estates, taxation, inheritance, etc, so it’s important to have an advisor skilled in every aspect of these laws and codes who can walk you through this complicated process. Without the proper planning, you can never be sure with whom or where your art collection may end up.

Collection On The Move

Sunbaker-Max-DupainThe infamous Sunbaker picture by Max Dupain from 1937 will be on the move after Minter Ellison, the owners of a large collection will be transferring fantastic pieces to the highest bidder. The law firm Minter Ellison has had marvelous artwork hanging in their Sydney office for over fifteen years. Unfortunately, the firm is moving to a warehouse styled office, which means they will not need artwork hanging around the office. The company owns 56 pieces of artwork, estimated roughly just under $2 million US dollars.

Even though the collection consists mostly of Australian photographs, the collection is still one of the top collections in all of Australia. It includes work from Tracey Moffatt, Bill Henson, and as mentioned earlier, Dupain. Minter Ellison is not the first company to sell a great collection of artwork. A few years back Foster’s Art Collection sold a collection for over $13 million US dollars. These collections are not uncommon with larger, prominent companies who use artwork to woo and get clients in the door, and show off success.

Although artwork is not a main facet for organizations, Sotheby’s Australia explains, “Large art collections of big companies to assess whether they should remain dormant on their books, as businesses look for new premises.”

Australia and Europe are known for their love of expensive artwork, and companies are joining this group by constantly owning collections which can be then sold for a great profit. The collection by Minter Ellison is expected to be sold July 21st.

For more Etienne, please visit Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Official Website.