Saturday 06th December 2014Picasso Stolen from Miami Art Fair
Art fairs are becoming de rigeur in the modern art world, growing to replace all the traditional gallery models in terms of popularity and sales volume in a very short time. It seems like popularity isn't the only thing that they're growing in, however, as this year a piece was stolen from a prominent Miami art fair - just probably not the one you're thinking of. Art Basel in Miami Beach is in full swing, but they're not the ones who have had something stolen, as it turns out. A smaller art fair, Art Miami, is the center of the theft, which occurred in the last few days.
Leslie Smith Gallery's booth at the fair was showing a number of pieces by famed Cubist Pablo Picasso, including the artifact that was stolen, Visage aux Mains (Face with Hands, 1956), a silver plate about 17 inches in diameter. Valued at roughly $85,000 USD, the piece is the first the gallery owner has ever had stolen, whether from an art fair or not. Classified as a grand heist by the police due to the value of the work, the current theory seems to be that the thief had little to no knowledge of the art world and the vagaries of its pricing models, as a much more expensive ceramic piece, also by Picasso, was hanging directly below the stolen silver plate.
Currently, the market for Picasso ceramics is in quite a boom, meaning that the thief is likely unaware of the intricacies of art and likely wanted it for its silver value - a mere $400 USD. It is possible, of course, that they simply wanted the piece itself and have no plans to resell it or melt it down, but until the thief is caught nothing can be said for sure. The organizers of the fair have offered a $5,000 reward for the return of the piece, no questions asked..A statement was sent to artnet news by fair director Nick Korniloff, emphasizing this:
We have issued a $5,000.00 reward for the return of the work with no questions asked—based on our own internal conclusion that whomever took the piece knows nothing about art and took it based on the fact that they thought it to be solid silver. [...] It makes absolutely no sense that this work would be targeted by anyone with knowledge of art. We hope that the piece is returned to the owner to preserve the existence of the work for future generations.
Here's hoping they get it back!
Posted on December 06th 2014 on 03:54pm
Wednesday 26th November 2014Art Basel in Miami
We've frequently discussed the recent worldwide trend towards the art fair, and how it's growing to supplant traditional gallery sales. Some gallery owners absolutely love it, and some gallery owners find it crude and tasteless, but no matter which side of the fence you're on, it's impossible to deny that they have taken centre stage in the art world. Popping up in cities all over the world, the art fair has become a staple. Arguably, the fair that started it all, Art Basel, is just about to launch its next iteration in Miami.
Art Basel Miami may seem a bit of a confusing principle - after all, Basel, the town which the fair is originally named for, is located in Switzerland, hardly the same type of environment as Miami. However, that may be its strongest selling point, as it also has a regular branch in Hong Kong. The Miami fair seems to be a relatively unique event, though, growing to become the newest must-be-there party slash mardi-gras slash celebrity birthday bash, where star-spotting is easier than spotting the next up and coming artist. In fact, the art almost seems to get lost behind the headlines that grab viewers, usually about which celebrities flew their private jets there, who they met, who they fought with, and so on and so forth.
The effect it's had on Miami itself is a rather remarkable one, however. Craig Robins, one of the people who were instrumental in launching the Miami branch of Art Basel, told the Guardian recently, “The idea that a city can market itself around culture was launched in Miami. We’ve tried to integrate the art side into the business side, and success there gave us capital to do more culturally.”
There was, of course, some resistance at first, especially from the mayor of Miami in the 1990s, who couldn't envision an art fair - so Don and Mera Rubell, collectors who are also movers and shakers in the Miami art scene, sent him to Basel to see the fair first hand: “Money, visibility – he saw what a huge scene it was. You have to remember that art is now global and art fairs are the only way to connect.”
It's become so popular there's even a name for the impact the fair has had on development around the city: the Miami Effect. Not exactly creative, perhaps, but the developments sure are.
Posted on November 26th 2014 on 04:32pm