Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Most Expensive Ejaculation ever Auctioned

Putting farce writers out of business is the straight news these days. Last night's contemporary art auction at Sotheby's led Bloomberg's Lindsay Pollock and Philip Boroff to note:
Murakami's buck-naked, 8-foot-tall ``My Lonesome Cowboy,'' inspired by a Japanese video game hero with a swirling semen lasso, fetched more than five times its $3 million low estimate. At $15.2 million, it may be the most expensive ejaculation ever auctioned. (A Sotheby's spokeswoman said that's one category they don't track.)
But it's in the seemingly illogical patterns emerging that true farce lies:

The evening's biggest casualty was Mark Rothko, whose 1956 ``Orange, Red, Yellow'' drew not a single bid. Estimated to sell for more than $35 million, it was especially painful for Sotheby's, which said it ``owns the lot in whole or in part or has an economic interest in the lot equivalent to an ownership interest.''

On Tuesday, the top lot at Christie's was another yellow- and-red Rothko, which sold for $50.4 million. Rothko's 1950s ``White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)'' held the previous record for priciest contemporary work sold at auction, fetching $72.8 million last year at Sotheby's in New York.

But, as in all great farce, there are reassuring moments of humanity and sanity, indications that there remains some semblance of order to how things work:

Sotheby's sale got a lift from 33 lots from the Lauff Collection, totaling $96 million, more than double the $47 million estimate. ``Provenance and quality,'' art adviser Thea Westreich said, explaining their success.

With a juice and bottling fortune, German collectors Helga and the late Walther Lauffs bought major minimalist, Pop and conceptual artworks in the 1960s and 1970s. They purchased under the direction of Paul Wembers, the influential director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, Germany. The collection was formerly on loan to the museum.

A few folks expressed disgust in yesterday's thread at the amount of money being spent at the contemporary auctions this week. Bambino, who attended Christie's the night before, noted that even though he understood the prices work was selling for at auctions, it was another matter all the same to see the bids advance in million-dollar increments (who are these people?). I guess I'm just more used to it, though, because I wasn't as taken aback.

The truth of the matter is, though, that nothing we sell is anywhere close to those prices and so my interest in the market remaining as strong as it can as long as it can, of course, is to remain in business long enough to get my artist's work into the right hands so that it will (hopefully) eventually end up prized pieces in museums' collections. The truth of the matter, as far as galleries are concerned, in fact, is that crazy auction prices aren't our goal. (They can wreck havoc on the carefully considered pricing structure and potentially hurt an artist's career.)

I want the auctions to do well, not because I particularly love them (or even respect their goals in all this), but because they're the most public measure of the mood of the market. If they're seen as "alive and well," then collectors are less hesitant to keep buying from the galleries, and we all get to keep doing what we love.

That doesn't mean I won't make fun of the auctions, though. They remain, in many ways, the best farce in town.

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34 Comments:

Blogger Donna Dodson said...

Tangential note on Takashi Murakami- since his retrospective is up at the Brooklyn museum through July 13, 2008, his Oval Buddha is on public view at 590 Madison Sculpture Court next to Trump Tower. The sculpture is 18 1/2 ft tall, cast in steel and aluminum and covered in PLATINUM LEAF. It doesn't say who owns the piece or if it is unique or a LIMITED edition but there are names on the plaque like special thank you to Pace Wildenstein, etc... BTW it is a very nice piece!

5/15/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

From that same article:

``A successful auction takes two things: money and testosterone,'' said Chicago collector Stefan Edlis, outfitted in a black leather jacket.

5/15/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

I wouldn't bid on a Rothko, because he didn't prime his canvases properly. They're far past their peak already, and in another 100 years they will be dust. A bidder on a Rothko is truly investing in the idea of a Rothko, not the actual work of art as it looked when it was made.

5/15/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Wow, that ejack is at least half his body weight, is that possible, Edward....

5/15/2008 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And on a somewhat related note, and NO, I am not making this up, I encourage everyone to Google the words Ed Winkleman and look at the Sponsored Links that come up on the right hand side.
"Rock Hard Erections", "Guaranteed Erections Fast", "Want a Rock Hard Erection"
LMAO! Does Ed have a career on the side that we're not aware of?!

5/15/2008 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

no comment...

5/15/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

encourage everyone to Google the words Ed Winkleman and look at the Sponsored Links that come up on the right hand side.

Oh...that is priceless. I may have to consider editing that title. How freakin' fast is that algorithm?

that ejack is at least half his body weight, is that possible, Edward....

One could interpret why you're asking me that question in two ways. I'll chose the other...Having seen one version of "My Lonsome Cowboy" (the blonde one I think) back when Boesky was still in Soho, I can attest to the fact that the engineering is such that indeed it looks as if the figure should weigh at least half as much as the rest of the sculpture.

And with that, I'm more convinced I'll need to delete this post.;-pp

5/15/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Oh no, the mighty pp

google is going to go nutz

maybe it's a slow news day?

5/15/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Not in California, it's not!

5/15/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Yeh, I saw that.

I decided after my comment to check g-news.

5/15/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

what's the most expensive auction piece ever ejaculated?

5/15/2008 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings

Not adjusted for inflation

5/15/2008 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Actually, the left column at wiki gives the inflation adjusted price.

5/15/2008 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

Yep, Jackson Pollock, just as I thought...

5/15/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Dudes, Blogspot is OWNED by Google. As soon as you hit the 'Publish' button, the entire contents of your post go directly into Google's database. The algorithm is instantaneous.

5/15/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Murakami, the Bougereau of our generation.

5/15/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

We don't buy our sculpture to go with the decor, be we don't necessarily want it to come on the decor, either. Well, whoever bought it deserves it.

5/15/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder?

They always exhibited the ejaculating boy together with the big boobs girl.

Are the divorced now?

Is this an anti-feminist/women move in the artworld?

How much are the big boobs?

Is ejaculating boy a gay art work now?

5/15/2008 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is ejaculating boy a gay art work now?

Girlfriend, only a closet coming out could make a shot like that..;)

5/15/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

only an Alpha-Gay would pay that much for a naked boy. :)

5/15/2008 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

The female mentioned above is Hiropon and she's skipping a rope formed from the milk she's squeezing out of her breasts.

These are easily two of the stupidest sculptures of all time. And they're part of a series of paintings, prints, and reproductions. You too can own a piece of the inanity!

5/15/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Incidentally, it's a major insult to Bouguereau to compare him with Murakami.

5/15/2008 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger concrete phone said...

Japanese art has a very long history of making funny erotic art Chris. Just helping you out here!

The piece here by Murakami traces that history and continues it. So I am telling you it is worth a lot of money, just as the Rothko is.

Shunga, or erotic art is another popular genre of Japanese prints and painting that has influenced the development of modern manga.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunga

Following the aesthetics of everyday life, Edo period shunga sought to express the sexual mores of the chonin in the widest variety of forms possible, and therefore depicted heterosexual and homosexual, old and young alike, as well as a wide range of fetishes.

5/15/2008 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

Murakami also sells handbags - last I checked. Well, nobody is planning on sitting in the sidelines. The back ad-sheet of the latest New Yorker shows Chuck Close peddling T-shirts (like some local two-bit salesman)... Hey, might as well cash in when the market is this red hot... right?

5/15/2008 10:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck Close ain't the only one pimping t-shirts (say it ain't so Kiki!). Props to Jeff Koons for refusing to wear the shirt he designed in the publicity photos. I might buy the Ashley Bickerton one if it had some nudity on it. Wonder just how limited these "limited edition" shirts are.
"Building on its long history of supporting the arts, today Gap introduced Artist Editions T-Shirts, a limited edition collection of t-shirts designed by 13 of today’s most influential contemporary artists, including Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, Marilyn Minter, Kiki Smith, Cai Guo-Qiang, Barbara Kruger, Ashley Bickerton, Kenny Scharf, Glenn Ligon, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kerry James Marshall, Hanna Liden and Sarah Sze. The t-shirts range in price from $28 to $38."

5/16/2008 01:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Props to Rirkrit Tiravanija for keepin' it real. His t-shirt simply says, "The Days of this Society are Numbered" I think he left forgot to include the rest of the sentence which would be "if you spend $28 on this shirt!"
Not sure how to add a link but you can see the shirts in all their ugliness here:
http://www.freshnessmag.com/v4/2008/05/13/gap-artist-editions-t-shirts/

5/16/2008 01:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Tiravanija shirt puts me in a 80s frame of mind. "War, war is stupid, and people are stupid..."
Frankie says RELAX.

5/16/2008 01:39:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

Re: Gap t-shirts designed by artists, I wonder which artists, if any, they approached who said no? I've seen Alex Katz limited edition beach towels for sale at Art Basel Miami beach. A few years ago it was artist endorsements- at least it looks like the artists are getting a little smarter and putting their image on whatever it is they choose to endorse. I think it makes them like rock stars, and the t-shirts you get at a rock concert, except it's out of context. Maybe that's the new thing, you could go to a gallery or museum show of an artist, and buy an artist's t-shirt- very american!

which reminds me again of takashi murakami's new piece- the oval buddha which is covered in platinum- like a rock star's album? i think it loses something in monochrome versus his other polychromed pieces- but what i dont get is that the oval buddha is a 'janus' figure as in the greco-roman god that the month of january is named after- one face looking forward, one face looking backward- and the body looks like a 3-toed sloth.

5/16/2008 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

So are their Murakami-designed condoms yet?

5/16/2008 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

yeah- it will be a limited edition takashi murakami designed marc jacobs brand umbrella

5/16/2008 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

CP sez:
Japanese art has a very long history of making funny erotic art Chris.

Making funny erotic art is one thing. Making a huge, über-expensive sculpture based on manga is stupid. I mean, if you're going to make giant masturbating weirdos, at least have the decency to make original giant masturbating weirdos. Inflating hentai and then charging a zillion dollars for it is truly obscene.

5/16/2008 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger concrete phone said...

But think of the practicalities Chris, if you owned the piece you could break a bit off and get rid of that itch--abscond two and you have a pair of antlers.
Then you could entertain the folks with the joke about moose.

5/18/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

If I owned it, I don't think I'd be breaking it, except maybe to sell the pieces. Then buy a house with an in-ground pool and a handsome cabana boy named Paco who could spend an hour every day at the edge of the pool posing just like the statue.

5/19/2008 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sort of fun how all this has suddenly changed...its like car sales...no "money" to borrow anymore, so nobody buys this shit anymore.
:)

11/20/2008 04:59:00 PM  

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