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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ART MARKET ANALYSIS: WHO BENEFITS FROM CHARITY AUCTIONS?





Art market analysis: Who benefits from charity auctions?
A common refrain is that there are too many of these events, with too much low-value art

By Sarah Douglas From issue 227, September 2011
Published online 20 Sep 11 (Market)

The auction Artists for Haiti, organised by New York’s David Zwirner gallery and Christie’s, takes place on 22 September. It is perhaps the most ambitious charity event since Sotheby’s 2008 auction for the rock star Bono’s Red charity, which finances Aids, tuberculosis and malaria programmes in Africa. The Haiti sale includes high-value, new work by artists such as Luc Tuymans and Jeff Koons.

There are similarities between the two events: Red’s $42.6m total—the result of a perfect confluence of strong market, blue-chip artists, and a celebrity-driven cause—wouldn’t have been possible if Damien Hirst, after a meeting with Bono, hadn’t approached artists including Banksy, Jasper Johns and Julian Schnabel. In Artists for Haiti’s case, Zwirner, after a trip to Haiti with the actor Ben Stiller who works with charities in the region, also opened up his contacts book.

While not all charity auctions are on the scale of Artists for Haiti or of Christie’s forthcoming Japan relief sale with Takashi Murakami (date yet to be confirmed), the dealers give up their time and the auctioneers conduct them, gratis. While the likes of Christie’s and David Zwirner become involved in charity auctions out of corporate responsibility, there are some additional fringe benefits. Such events are good for public relations and can help in winning business: existing and potential clients are often involved in charitable organisations. And they are a good deal for collectors too. Although New York State requires sales tax, there is no buyer’s premium. One exception was the Red sale, for which there was some financial incentive for Sotheby’s, which took a 10% buyer’s commission (below its usual 12% to 25% rate, but a fee nonetheless). Collectors who donate a work get a tax deduction on its full market value; buyers get one on the difference between the retail value of a piece and what was paid above it.

Read full article here.

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