Dealers

Future Fair Debuts in New York With an Experimental Profit-Sharing Model—and Dealers Say It Has Delivered


As suggested by its name, Future Fair was conceived as a newfangled kind of expo, one modeled more like a co-op: profits are shared, finances are transparent, and what’s good for the individual is good for the collective. 

It’s a nice idea, but in a landscape dominated by mega-fairs that operate more like big-box supermarkets, the long-term sustainability of that model remains an open question. And it’s one that’s hanging over the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York this week, as Future Fair, founded by Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte, finally stages its inaugural in-person edition. (The fair was originally scheduled to debut last year, but the pandemic pushed the event online.)

So, will this experiment actually work? 

Ojo Ayotunde, <i>Alright</i> (2021). Courtesy of Nyama Fine Art.

Ojo Ayotunde, Alright (2021). Courtesy of Nyama Fine Art.

Among the 34 exhibiting galleries—25 percent of which are owned by people of color and 50 percent of which are owned by women—initial impressions are optimistic, even if actual sales have been slow-going so far. (After a VIP day, the fair opened to the public today.)

“So far, it’s been wonderful,” said Russell Tyler, a painter-turned-gallerist who opened the space Sunny NY earlier this year. “People are discovering the works of the artists. That’s the main goal, to find people who are interested in the work, even if they don’t purchase something now.”

As far as events like this go, Future Fair is on the smaller side, which may earn it tick marks in both the pro and con columns. The humble size of the fair offers a welcome respite from the overcrowded Armorys and Friezes of the world, but it also limits its offerings. Turn the corner after what seems like just a couple of booths and you may be surprised to suddenly find yourself at the exit door—no more art. 

“I love that it’s small,” said New York dealer Asya Geisberg, noting that the city has long needed a more modestly scaled prestige fair. “You get so much more as a viewer.” 

Angelina Gualdoni, <i>The Physic Garden</i> (2021). Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

Angelina Gualdoni, The Physic Garden (2021). Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

Still, “quality over quantity” has been the fair’s mantra since it launched, and there’s a lot to like here. Ojo Ayotunde’s contemplative, Noah Davis-esque self-portraits at Nyama Fine Art (Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts) come to mind, as do Amie Cunat’s graphic botanical paintings at Dinner Gallery (New York). A joint presentation of trippy paintings from Jacopo Pagin and sardonic ceramics by Cary Leibowitz at New Discretions (New York) packs one of the expo’s better one-two punches. 

Funnily enough, the fair’s profit-sharing model doesn’t seem to have been a huge draw for dealers. “I barely even paid attention to that,” said John Pollard, founder of Richmond, Virginia, gallery ADA. Owning a small gallery in a small market, Pollard sales aren’t the aim of the fair; it’s more about meeting potential collectors. 

“To me, sales are a consideration, but they’re not the only consideration,” echoed Pollard’s booth-mate, Asya Geisberg. “To me it’s more about what this fair is doing, building up an audience and an idea.”

Geisberg said that the sense of community and collaboration was the big appeal for her. “Like with everything in life, you put in more you get more.”

Brian Belott, <i>Untitled</i>, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Mother Gallery, Beacon, NY.

Brian Belott, Untitled, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Mother Gallery, Beacon, NY.

“I don’t know if there will be any profit this year, but it’s a nice gesture,” Paolo Oxoa, founder of the Beacon, New York-based Mother Gallery. (Oxoa is also opening up a new space in Tribeca later this month.) “And because we’re invested in that way, they also share with us a lot of what they’re thinking and planning, their numbers—information that most fairs keep to themselves.”

For Oxoa, who was among the first dealers to sign on to the fair before the health crisis, that sense of personal touch has been a big reason why she’s stuck with the fair.

“[The founders] said they were going to do these things, and through the pandemic, which has been such a challenging time, they’ve stuck to those promises. That means a lot to me,” said Oxoa. “I’m proud to be here.”

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Top Tennis Player Fined Over Gallery Sponsorship, Art Basel’s Last-Ditch Effort to Keep Dealers From Fleeing + More Art-World Gossip


Every week, Midnight Publishing Group News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops by our crack team of reporters. This week, we welcome Julie Baumgardner into the mix… 

ART WORLD TO USTA: WHERE’S THE LOVE? 

Usually fashion lays claim to tennis as its sport, but there’s news out of the U.S. Open that crashes into the art world. American singles player Reilly Opelka recently was fined by the United States Tennis Association for sporting a pink tote bag from Belgium’s Tim Van Laere Gallery.

No, the problem wasn’t that tote bags are contributing big time to the climate crisis. It was that the branded bag was “unapproved” (under USTA rules, players cannot wear any gear on the court with logos that exceed four square inches). Opelka—the highest ranking American men’s player in the U.S. Open, who has been deemed the “next great hope” for U.S. men’s tennis—was summarily slapped with a $10,000 fine.

It didn’t take long for the situation to catapult this little pink tote into a blurry confluence of art project, practical object, cult status symbol… and, as Venus Williams joked on Instagram, a $10,000 asset for which she got in at the “seed round.” (In reality, Reilly gave her one of the now-cult bags as a gift.)

Opelka is the only professional tennis player with a gallery as a sponsor—and his tote marked the first time an art organization has been visible on the court.

The partnership derived from the two men’s shared passion for art and tennis. While Opelka is a dedicated collector, Van Laere played tennis professionally for two years after playing in college (“at a lower level,” the dealer clarifies). The only other art-collecting men’s tennis player to come to mind is, of course, John McEnroe. And the comparisons between the two Americans have already started, with McEnroe himself calling Opelka “a dangerous” player.

Under the terms of their arrangement, Van Laere sports a gallery patch on his shirt sleeve and uses the branded tote to carry necessary equipment (like shoes for third, fourth, and fifth sets, we’re told).

The gallery pays Opelka in exchange—Van Laere declined to state how much, but assured us it’s not at the level of a sportswear brand. Opelka and Van Laere “prefer to call it a partnership not a sponsorship,” the gallerist says, seeing it as an opportunity to elevate the arts through tennis. “It’s not about money, it’s about being creative in our collaboration and finding more opportunities to mix both worlds,” Van Laere explains.

Both men were scandalized by the pricey slap on the wrist. “Reilly was just in Toronto for the Open final. He brought it [the tote] in the French Open, everyone thought it was cool,” Van Laere recounts. “He didn’t have a problem. Only in the U.S. Open did he get fined.” (Opelka, for his part, groused on Twitter: “U.S. open ticket sales must be strugglin this year.”)

The art-tennis crew may have gotten the last laugh. Van Laere rallied some of the artists Opelka collects, who also happen to be tennis players themselves—Rinus Van de Velde and Friedrich Kunath—to toss in a bit of performance-protest.

Kunath, who traveled from L.A. to watch his friend play, turned the bags inside out and scribbled in marker, “UNAPPROVED.” Opelka debuted the modified version in his match against Lloyd Harris in the Round of 16. Sadly, Opelka is now out of the Open, but the pink bag will live on (and it’s probably already tripled in value).

BASEL CRAWLS BACK FROM THE BRINK

A visitor arrives at the 2019 edition of Art Basel, the last in-person version of the fair. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.)

A visitor arrives at the 2019 edition of Art Basel, the last in-person version of the fair. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.)

While the flurry of fair activity descends upon New York as the Armory Show settles into its new home at the Jacob Javits Center and Independent sets up shop at Cipriani South Street, the buzz around town isn’t just about the revival of these fairs and how weird it is to see people from the top of the nose up. Instead, Basel is the word on everyone’s lips—and speculation about who’s going and who’s not has become a guessing game with deeper implications. Last weekend, a reliable tipster urgently told Wet Paint, “a mega-gallery is pulling out of Basel, expect the news to drop on Monday.”

Around the same time, a group of galleries—led by Lisson—sent a letter to Basel organizers asking that the show not go on. (The gallery did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

We spent all weekend furiously texting the majors to get ahead of the news. A representative for Gagosian said, “We are packing and shipping works as we speak, so it would seem we are going.” A sales director for Hauser & Wirth responded, “We’re packed and have our hotel rooms booked, so yes I am definitely going.” A representative from Pace flat-out denied any rumor, and while David Zwirner’s official channels have yet to comment, an employee said, “I’m looking at a shipping list so if we aren’t going, that would be weird?”

We went further afield. With the news that Lévy GorvyAmalia Dayan, and Salon 94 are forming a conglomerate and pulling out of all fairs but those in Asia (all the better to reach newer, younger collectors), it would seem rather obvious that one gallery (or all three!) wouldn’t be attending. Last we checked, Europe isn’t Asia—but LGDR also doesn’t formally debut until next year. Salon’s Jeanne Greenberg, who apologized for being occupied with Rosh Hashanah dinner, said, “we’ve shipped the works, so we better be there!” while a rep for Lévy Gorvy assured us that their original Basel plans have not changed. Denials also came in from more than half a dozen other dealers.

In the end, Basel may have managed, by the skin of its teeth, to keep dealers in line with the announcement of a $1.6 million “Solidarity Fund” designed to help participants offset some of their potential losses after the fact (but only, of course, if they don’t pull out).

In a conversation with Wet Paint, Art Basel’s global director Marc Spiegler confirmed that more than a handful of galleries had the intention of calling it quits. But “every single gallery,” he said proudly, “is now confirmed. We met fears with facts and we stepped up in an uncertain moment to calm the market. That came from being in dialogue with our galleries, and the ones who were planning to cancel or had reservations about attending are now enthusiastic and on board.”

With only two weeks ’til the show goes up—and many artworks already in transit—the window for any gallery on the fence to play Humpty Dumpty is closing fast.

SCENE SPOTTING

A screen shot of Cynthia Talmadge's work on Platform.

A screen shot of Cynthia Talmadge’s work on Platform.

***When word got out that work by in-demand artist Cynthia Talmadge, who has an impossibly long wait list at 56 Henry, had sold out within 20 minutes of going live on Platform, the David Zwirner-backed e-commerce initiative, it perplexed some buyers who logged onto the site the minute the batch went live, only to find them unavailable. Mystery solved: Wet Paint has learned that Zwirner provides participating galleries with VIP pre-sale codes so that preferred buyers can get in early. One dealer likened the arrangement to “an art fair where you pre-sell works” —which sure is all fine and dandy, except that Zwirner himself told the New York Times back in May, “We’re not sitting there and saying, ‘You get to buy it and you don’t.’ It’s first come, first served.” The gallery did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

*** Speaking of Platform, the art world’s hottest bachelor appears to be gallery scion (and Platform honcho) Lucas Zwirner—who was apparently dodging suitors at former Wet Paint scribe Nate Freeman’s recent wedding, with one reveler calling it “the groomsmen effect.” Another insider revealed that Lucas has been spotted multiple times a week at his family-backed restaurant Il Buco with “a different brunette” (the exception being recent dinner companion/ex Sienna Miller, who is blonde).

*** The gallery [On Approval], which has space in San Francisco‘s Minnesota Street Project gallery hub, is—appropriately for Silicon Valley—pivoting to an app. Founder Andrew McClintock, who also runs Ever Gold [Projects], has developed an online platform for “communal ownership” of contemporary art. Currently the app is in beta, and we hear they’re being particularly picky about which collectors they’re letting test out the concept.

*** In June, Wet Paint discovered that Mendes Wood is slated to open an upstate gallery in Germantown—turns out, they’re not going alone. They’re partnering with frequent collaborators Blum & Poe on a shared space a few doors down from the famed tavern Gaskins.

BLIND ITEMS

A sculpture by the artist Hugo Farmer at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. (Photo by Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images)

A sculpture by the artist Hugo Farmer at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. (Photo by Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images)

*** Which untouchable Minimalist master (who would’ve rejected that moniker) had a torrid affair with the country’s now-top art critic just back when they were getting their start? *** Which power dealer had a Rashid Johnson installed in their child’s New York University freshman dorm—which, according to a classmate, the spawn didn’t even like? *** Which 57th Street dealer has earned the nickname “Son of Sam” due in part to his father’s name, and also to his reputation for being rather terrifying to deal with? ***

PARTING SHOT

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As Summer Sales Wane, Italian Dealers Are Chasing Collectors All the Way to the Beach With a Pop-Up in Procida


A consortium of Italian galleries has announced it is opening a decentralized art exhibition on the small Italian island of Procida. The event takes place over the three-day weekend of September 2–5 and will see 45 works of art peppered across 20 sites on the striking yet lesser-known island, just off the coast of Naples.

“Panorama” is the first event to be organized by Italics, a group of 63 galleries that banded together in 2020, and will present pieces ranging from Old Masters to the ultra-contemporary. “The founding principle behind Italics is to connect art of all times with the rich and diverse Italian landscape, offering a unique opportunity to explore both through a special perspective,” said Lorenzo Fiaschi, president of Italics and co-founder of Galleria Continua, and Pepi Marchetti Franchi, vice president of Italics and founding director of Gagosian Rome, in a joint statement sent to Midnight Publishing Group News.

The destination pop-up—set against vistas familiar from such films as Cleopatra and The Talented Mr. Ripley—is one of the more unusually located and ephemeral exhibitions during a year that saw galleries and auction houses decamp to various locations around the world, opening outposts in places like West Palm Beach and Menorca. A group of dealers curated a group show in Puglia earlier this summer.

Lucio Fontana's <i>Fine di Dio</i> (1963). Courtesy Tornabuoni Art.

Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio (1963). Courtesy Tornabuoni Art.

The organizers say the primary aim of “Panorama” is community-based, not commercial, although the works will all be for sale. “We don’t see this project as antithetical to anything already in place, but rather an additional opportunity highlighting the role of galleries as centers of cultural production,” said the duo. “Italics was born in a moment of high challenge at the start of the pandemic last year, when Italy was hit particularly hard. We started having intense conversations about how to create synergies addressing the hard road ahead.” Even if Italics was conceived in response to a specific moment, when it comes to future iterations, they added, “the possibilities for long-term collaboration projects are almost endless.”

The works and their respective settings were overseen by Vincenzo de Bellis, curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, who led the selection and installation in consultation with participating Italics members. Sites across the island, named Italy’s cultural capital for 2022, include various public and private buildings, churches, historical palazzos, and piazzas. One example of the cross-century pairings features one of Lucio Fontana’s iconic Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio works, courtesy of Tornabuoni Art. Translating to “Spatial concept. The End of God,” the punctured green canvas from 1963 will be dramatically presented in the chapel of Santa Maria della Purità, which dates to 1530. The Fontana will be paired with Filippo Tagliolini’s paintings Berenice and Democrito o/or Aristotele, both from around 1790, which arrive via Alessandra Di Castro, an antiques dealer from Rome.

Tomás Saraceno's <i>GJ 1132 c/M+M</i> (2018). Courtesy the artist and pinksummer.

Tomás Saraceno’s GJ 1132 c/M+M (2018). Courtesy of the artist and pinksummer.

A spokesperson from Tornabuoni tells Midnight Publishing Group News that the Fontana, an “example of Italian excellence from the postwar avant-garde,” has been read in different ways, either as a “negation of transcendence or, sometimes, the rediscovery of spirituality.” Though the gallery would not communicate a specific price, it hinted that the work is one of the most expensive pieces of Italian art to ever come to market, aside from the €158 million Modigliani sold at Sotheby’s in 2015. According to Midnight Publishing Group’s Price Database, an iteration of Concetto spaziale. Fine di Dio sold at Christie’s for $29.1 million in 2015; that same year, Sotheby’s sold another version for $24.6 million.

The Tornabuoni spokesperson added that salespeople will be on site during the weekend to welcome collectors. “Our gallery strongly believes that this kind of event is set to be reproduced and developed, as it answers a need to see art leaving the sometimes hermetic walls of a physical gallery to come into contact with a wider or different audience,” they told Midnight Publishing Group News. “The originality and strength of this project is also born from the unexpected locations of the island of Procida, which becomes a theater where art and architecture feed one another.”

Additional highlights include a monumental sculpture by revered Chinese installation artist Chen Zhen. The art trail will snake around the island, leading up to the fortified city of Terra Murata and its dramatic clifftop prison, where Giuseppe Penone will install a bronze tree sculpture that morphs into a human figure on the terrace. Other participating artists include Daniel Buren, Ibrahim Mahama, and Tomás Saraceno; Robert Barry, Elisabetta Benassi, Igor Grubić, Marcello Maloberti, and Adrian Paci will contribute performances.

Panorama” takes place September 2–5 on Procida, Italy.

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Art Dealers at Intersect Aspen Say the Pop-Up Fair Was a Roaring Success—and a Great Chance to Finally See Collectors Again


The absence of most in-person art fairs in the past year and a half appears to be making the white-hot art market even hotter.

That’s the takeaway from the opening day of the pop-up Intersect Aspen art fair, which takes place in a city overrun with billionaires.

The fair, which features 30 galleries from 26 cities and was described by one fairgoer as “tiny but exquisite,” attracted a bevy of collectors, including Andrea and John Stark, Janna Bullock, and heiress Elizabeth Esteve.

Sales were fast and furious, organizers said. Galerie Gmurzynska, whose director Isabelle Bscher made a concerted effort not to presell works (as galleries often do at major fairs), sold a Joan Miró painting, Tête (1979), for $2 million in the first hour of the opening day.

Two days later, Gmurzynska reported selling another work, a small Picasso titled Compotier avec raisin (Pigeons) (1927) for over $1.5 million.

Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

“Where better to be than Aspen?” asked Christine Berry of New York’s Berry Campbell Gallery. “We have a renewed appreciation for being at an art fair in person.”

Seattle dealer Greg Kucera reported selling work by Chris Engman for $5,000 and by Humaira Abid for $8,000. The gallery is also showing two new works by Deborah Butterfield that were made specifically for Intersect Aspen, and are on view for the first time.

“The fair opened on Sunday morning at 10 with a bang,” New York dealer Nancy Hoffman said. “Starting with energy is key to the success of the event, and this is a success. This is our first in-person fair since the pandemic, and it has been great so far, positive on all levels. The right size, the right place, the right audience, the right fair director and organization.”

Hoffman said responses have been strong to the gallery’s booth theme of wild flowers, which is inspired by Aspen’s floral landscape. With prices for works ranging from $1,800 to $75,000, she said the gallery sold works priced from $5,000 to $30,000.

Installation view of Edward Cella Art & Architecture at Intersect Aspen. Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

Installation view of Edward Cella Art & Architecture at Intersect Aspen. Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

Half Gallery sold out a booth of works by Hiejin Yoo (prices ranged from $12,000 to $20,000), Young Lim Lee (priced around $8,000), and Umar Rashid (priced around $25,000). Director Erin Goldberger said she was using the opportunity to meet new clients, see old clients, and talk about the artists on view with visitors.

Goldberger said many of the collectors at the fair have not been back to New York since the start of COVID, so this is the first time many are seeing artworks from galleries they work with in person.

Emmanuel Perrotin sold works by Daniel Arsham from two different series, including one featured prominently in the booth, Quartz Eroded Basketball Hoop (2021), which sold for a price in the range of $60,000 to $90,000.

Edward Cella Art and Architecture gallery sold a painting by Wosene Worke Kosrof, House Full of Words (2014), for $46,000, with strong interest from buyers in additional works.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality and intelligence of the collectors, who are geographically dispersed throughout the country,” said gallery owner Edward Cella.

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We Went Behind the Scenes With the Art Dealers Looking to Make Millions in Monaco, the Elite City-State Smaller Than Central Park


It’s no small wonder why, in the upper tiers of the art industry, the European city-state of Monaco is a haven. The minuscule principality, which is smaller than Central Park and known for its fast cars, lack of tax, and decadent casino, is at its core a beloved hideaway for the wealthy, a place to park the super yacht for a while on the way down the Cote d’Azur.

“It’s mandatory to be in Monaco in summer,” Antoine Lebouteiller, Christie’s director of Impressionist and Modern art in Paris, told Midnight Publishing Group News. Behind us, potential clients examined diamonds at the auction house’s summer showroom at Cipriani restaurant while suited servers shuffled by with plates of burrata.

Just up the hill from where we stood, Sotheby’s was changing over the art in its new gallery not far from Hauser & Wirth’s freshly minted space, where a recently installed Louise Bourgeois show opened last month and was largely sold out already. Berlin dealer Johann König was also within a stone’s throw, trying out a new format by hanging rostered artists’ works in a luxury interior design showroom. 

The Art Monte Carlo fair had just opened to VIPs—now in its fifth year, the event is a veteran among a burgeoning blue-chip art scene of newcomers.

For a newly mobile art world that is looking for places to gather in the absence of the typical summer tentpoles like Art Basel (which has moved to September), Monaco is ideal.

“Monaco is sort of public-private,” one art-world insider told me. “It is somewhat confidential here.” In other words, never mind the back room when you’ve got a place like this—it is, essentially, an entire city-state that doubles as a VIP lounge. 

artmonte-carlo at the Grimaldi Forum with a work by Xavier Veilhan. Courtesy Perrotin. Photo: Julien Gremaud.

The Arte Monte Carlo fair at the Grimaldi Forum with a work by Xavier Veilhan. Courtesy Perrotin. Photo: Julien Gremaud.

Space-Making

More than almost any other city, Monaco has its limits—which makes it even more desirable for the glitterati. Real estate is hard to come by, even for the super-rich. Due to the sheer lack of space, Monaco is quite literally stacked on top of itself, hanging off a coastline densely jammed by 1980s high-rise apartments—a skyline that one Swiss collector described to me as “totally vulgar” from across the table at a dinner (they attend the art fair annually anyway). 

Even the wealthiest of collectors have apartments smaller than you might expect here—but a Monaco address is a precious thing. “They’re building on the ocean,” auctioneer and Midnight Publishing Group News columnist Simon de Pury said from the Cipriani rooftop. Within view were a half-dozen cranes building Renzo Piano’s $2.3 billion “land reclamation” project, which will add 15 acres of fake earth to Monaco for luxury commercial and residential spaces.

Matthew Lutz-Kinoy's monumental painting adorns a villa owned by Kamel Menour. Photo: Kate Brown

Matthew Lutz-Kinoy’s monumental painting adorns a villa owned by Kamel Mennour for a private brunch. Photo: Kate Brown

For dealers like London- and Paris-based dealer Kamel Mennour, who has a summer home up the coast in France, the lack of quality space is partially what keeps him from opening a gallery in the city. He and his family welcomed VIPs to their breathtaking summer home, a 19th-century villa dotted with works by gallery artists, including a mobile by Petrit Halilaj that was gently suspended above a table brimming with fresh hors d’oeuvres, near a pastel-on-paper work by French artist Camille Henrot, who attended Mennour’s brunch party with her family. 

Menour and his wife and children roamed around as guests looked at the works, most of which were for sale. “We were supposed to be traveling around now, but because of COVID, I thought to try this instead,” he said.

Tony Cragg’s sculpture on view outside of the Casino Monte-Carlo, as a preview to Artcurial’s sale this week at the Hermitage Hotel. Photo: Kate Brown

Experimentation seemed to be the prevailing mood at Sotheby’s and Christie’s new projects as well. Both opted for cross-category offerings. At Sotheby’s, luxury handbags (including several rare Grace Kelly bags from Hermès, named after the princess who wore them to hide her belly while pregnant in Monaco, priced at up to €300,000) stood across from a large Botero work listed for €1 million to €1.3 million.

“It’s all about lifestyle,” said Olivier Fau, Sotheby’s head of private sales in France. “We want to show our clients that we are present and tailor our diverse offerings to them.”

The gamble seemed to pay off. At Christie’s, a new client bought a Picasso off the wall of the restaurant, which hung above the cash register.

Still, given the lack of space in the city-state, an ephemeral format like an art fair is a solid option for the larger bell curve of art sellers. The boutique Art Monte Carlo, which can be circulated almost entirely in an hour (it shrunk as a result of the pandemic, from 73 dealers last year to just 27 this year), offered dealers a chance to get face time with a strong list of VIPs, including collectors David Nahmad, Patricia Marshall, and Eskandar and Fatima Maleki, to name a few.

The appeal was clear given the presence of newcomers White Cube, Perrotin, Hauser & Wirth, and Pace. (“Something is different this year,” said dealer Florence Bonnefous from the Air de Paris gallery, a long-time participant in the fair, as she motioned toward the blue-chip galleries. She had just closed the sale of a 2010 work by Dorothy Iannone, for €20,000 to a Monaco collector.)

An Anselm Reyle work on view as a part of Galerie König's collaboration with Lenzwerk at Lenzwerk showroom in Monaco. Photo: Kate Brown

An Anselm Reyle work on view as a part of Galerie König’s collaboration with Lenzwerk at Lenzwerk showroom in Monaco. Photo: Kate Brown

Throughout the fair, there were signs of caution, with booths dominated by group presentations and very few solo booths with overt conceptual statements. After a year of upheaval, no one was to keen to try anything too bold.

Monaco, it seems, is for selling—not for branding or courting critics. Perrotin sold a large painting by Hernan Bas for €200,000, and Turin gallery Franco Nero sold works by Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Falls in the first two days of the fair. Nathalie Obadia, another first-timer, sold a Mickalene Thomas for an undisclosed price, and two works by Fiona Rae for between €50,000 and €100,000 each, among others.

London’s Thomas Gibson, another first-timer, placed a Giacometti drawing of Igor Stravinsky with a collector for $58,000—surely helped by the major retrospective of the artist that took place in the same building. The dealer was there alongside a little cohort of Modern art dealers, including Dickinson, who were attending for the first time. “With TEFAF canceled, there are many clients we have not been able to see for a while, so we decided to come to them,” the gallery’s Aurélie Maw told Midnight Publishing Group News.

A view of Christie's presentation at Cipriani in Monaco. Photo: Kate Brown

A view of Christie’s presentation at Cipriani in Monaco. Photo: Kate Brown

Back in town, off the steps of the famous and historic Monte Carlo Casino, the French auction house Artcurial arranged the display of several outdoor sculptures, including a Tony Cragg—its price range of €200,000 to €300,000 listed right there on a panel—that will be auctioned off on July 22 at the Hermitage Hotel, just past the casino. 

In Monte Carlo, everything is just around the corner, reachable by unfathomably narrow sidewalks—this is the city of the Grand Prix race, but it is also a reminder that this is not a place for “normal people,” as one art-world insider told me.

“We have to bring works to our public,” said Mark Armstrong, senior director of Sotheby’s Monaco. Here, “public” has a very particular definition. Everything, from the top of the cliffs to the new ocean-top properties, is designed for a handful of the ultra-wealthy, not the public at large—who are all but absent.

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