With the dawn of spring comes the highly anticipated commencement of New York’s spring auctions of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art. These biannual sales provide the opportunity for owners of big-ticket items to maximize prices and allow the three houses, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips, a chance to maximize revenues. The evening and day auctions are expected to include more than 2,000 lots estimated to raise at least $1.6 billion.
Amidst the hectic chaos preceding one of the art industry’s most booming weeks, Jeremy Larner, a private art dealer and president of New York based JKL Worldwide, took a moment to help us navigate this seemingly impervious week.
As a leading contributor to NY’s art scene, what does the commencement of art auction week mean to you? JEREMY LARNER: Auction week in NY to me is a really special time because collectors and dealers from all over the world come to town and it’s a hot time for transactions inside and outside of the auction houses. The city really comes to life—the best gallery shows are opening for the season, there's always important galas to attend and the shopping fever is absolutely rampant. The auction season is truly the barometer of the health of the art market. The numbers at auction do not lie. To me, the most exciting part of auction week is the fact that incredible works come to market and in many cases will never be presented to the public for years to come if ever again. It can sometimes be the last opportunity to stand before some of the greatest works of the 20th and part of the 21st century.
Who can we expect to be the power players in the secondary marketplace this upcoming week? JL: Despite being known at the moment for his dominant primary market programming, I believe Per Skarstedt is at the forefront of the secondary market amongst other things the incredible Steven Parrino show in the gallery's new space is truly unforgettable. Other secondary market heavy weights are definitely Lévy Gorvy who has an exceptional Warhol presentation currently on view and Mnuchin who's presenting a must see show exclusively on deKooning and his artistic evolution.
Is there a particular style on the rise that we should be on the lookout for? JL: It seems that right now, the market has been looking back to the past to discover overlooked artists who are now finally getting the attention they've deserved on both the gallery and institutional levels. As a result, where there is low supply and high demand for these artists’ works, prices soar. One prime example is Sam Gilliam, one of the now rising All-stars of the Washington Color School. If we look at his CV, one sees how incredibly important Gilliam is and was both in art history and in today’s visual culture. Nevertheless, it was only until recently that David Kordansky in LA has pivoted him into stardom. With upcoming shows at Dia and the Hirshorn, I truly believe his market will continue to rise as supply of his work is extremely scarce.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting their feet wet in the secondary market? JL: I would truly advise precaution before all else. It's much easier to buy than it is to sell and you should surround yourself with educated, trusted advisors who can be your eyes and ears in the ebbs and flows of the secondary market. Developing an art collection or simply being involved in the second market is extremely time consuming. Unless you are ready to do it full-time, you should have a trusted individual who can act as a liaison on your behalf. Once you've identified your goals, make sure you're aligning with individuals who value and share them.
You’re a huge advocate for “art an investment.” What’s your secret to knowing what type of artwork constitutes a sound investment? JL: I really have no secret to understanding the market and how to make investments. Just as in any business, if you want it to succeed you have to do your research. Pay attention to the various factors that can make a market shift such as an artist moving one gallery to another, major museum level solo shows and acquisitions made by prominent collections. Keeping your ears to the ground is essential in the game of surviving in the secondary market.