South African Paintings
SA art achieves record prices
Classic Business Day Investment Trends looks at South African artists, and the new record prices set at Sotheby’s November 2006 art auction in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
With Mark Kretschmer from Stephan Welz & Company, fine art auctioneers in association with Sotheby’s
Posted: 2006-11-28 found at transcripts.businessday.co.za
related > Hit & Miss
Bob Kuhn sold at Sotheby's
Presenter: Giulietta Talevi Guest(s): Mark Kretschmer
GIULIETTA TALEVI: Art is not a subject we often cover on Classic Business Day, but one of our regular guest brokers told us about the Sotheby’s art auction last week that achieved extraordinary prices for South African artists including Maggie Laubser, Pierneef and Irma Stern. Mark Kretschmer is chairman of Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s, and he is in the studio to tell us about the recent Rosebank auction, the state of the art market at present, as well as art as an asset class. Mark, there were some fairly eye-watering prices obtained at last week’s auction - can you tell us about some of the major lots?
MARK KRETSCHMER: The highlight of the auction was a Maggie Laubser which sold for R4-million hammer price, followed by a Pierneef at R2.8-million, and an Irma Stern on paper at R2.2-million. That’s the highest price ever attained in the South African market for a work of art on paper. The Maggie Laubser broke all records, and set the highest price for any painting by a South African artist sold in South Africa.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: The prices obtained were far above the advertised estimates?
MARK KRETSCHMER: Yes.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: Are these prices indicative of the health of the South African art market itself, or is it that there’s an awful lot of money sloshing about looking for a home?
MARK KRETSCHMER: Probably a bit of both. I think that the art market is hot worldwide - if you look at the prices achieved in the overseas markets such as New York, London, Hong Kong and others they are able to get very high prices, and clearly there is a certain amount of liquidity around for people to be able to make those investments. I would say the answer to your question is “yes” to both.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: You spoke about the Asian markets and New York - I understand it was mainly Asian tycoons and American fund managers that were the buyers at a recent auction that Christie’s held in Hong Kong. Do you think that means there’s a potential for a collapse in the art market, or would you say that the art market is on a sustainable upward trend?
MARK KRETSCHMER: I would say it’s on an upward trend. Art appears to be very similar to the stock market - if you can hold on long enough there is generally an upward trend. There may be peaks and valleys, but generally speaking it seems to be on an upward trend worldwide.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: The state of the international art markets judging from recent articles looks very robust - do you think our own market is comparable, or do we have unique factors affecting our own market?
MARK KRETSCHMER: Correct, we do have factors affecting our own market. However I’ve heard it said that South African art is undervalued - last week’s auction would belie that. For really fine art works I believe there is a very healthy market.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: A question I’ve always wanted to ask because of my ignorance of the art market is how does one actually arrive at a valuation? How does one evaluate if a work of art - be it a painting, a sculpture or a piece of jewellery - is a good buy?
MARK KRETSCHMER: Auction estimates are based entirely on previous sale records - so estimates that are quoted after each item or artwork’s description is an indication of what a similar work by the same artist had attained to that date in the auction market. In some instances this gives an indication of the growth in this market - when a new hammer price exceeds the estimate.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: Should you go for something that you like irrespective of the name, or should you go for a big name when you’re looking at investing in a piece of art?
MARK KRETSCHMER: I think fundamental to collecting art - or any other collectable - is a sound knowledge in what you’re doing, or extremely good advice. You can go very wrong if you believe that just because a particular artist fetched a high price at a recent auction and your grandmother left you a picture by a similar artist that it’s of the same value. That’s not necessarily the case at all.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: You mention advice - how do you go about obtaining advice?
MARK KRETSCHMER: There are art dealers - art experts - and you need to seek out their advice and knowledge.
GIULIETTA TALEVI: Given your experience with art buyers, and with the state of the art market - would you say having a few key pieces, if you got the right advice and bought the right pieces - make for a good investment over the longer term?
MARK KRETSCHMER: I would say so. I have been told - by someone who knows what they’re doing - that their art collection has made them more money than their investments in property and the stock market, but I would say that’s the exception rather than the rule.
South African Art Bell-Roberts south africa gallery
Museum to auction Hit and Miss off art
Genesee Country Village to sell 50 pieces that could fetch $2M