Record Sotheby’s/Ritchie’s Canadian Art Sale Set for Spring 2007 


 Jean-Paul Riopelle, La Forêt ArdenteOil on canvas, signed and dated 195576 ½ by 90 ½ in.Estimate: $2,000,000 – $2,500,000 CAN 


Celebrating 40 years serving the Canadian art market Sotheby’s
Canada is pleased to announce its spring sale of Important Canadian Art held in association with Ritchie’s Auctioneers on May 28th, 2007 at 10:30 am.   

This season we have an extraordinary collection of works by the Automatistes, including a stunning early Jean-Paul Riopelle La Forêt Ardente (est. $2,000,000/2,500,000), a large black and white canvas titled Pierres Angulaires by Paul-Émile Borduas (est. $300,000/400,000), and a selection of works by Marcelle Ferron.   

The Group of Seven is well represented with a remarkable sketch by Lawren Harris Glacier & Mountain painted during his 1929 trip to the Canadian Rockies (est.$400,000/600,000) and an early Frederick Varley sketch Rain Squall, Georgian Bay (est.$80,000/100,000).  We are also delighted to offer David Milne’s Two Cedars,
Boston Corners, dated 1919, a canvas from his early days in
New York State (est. $150,000/200,000).   

In addition three paintings by James Wilson Morrice, The Figure (est. $100,000/150,000), The Harbour (est. $150,000/200,000) and Farm Landscape with Figures,
Brittany (est. $40,000/60,000), show strongly.  Major works by Cornelius Krieghoff, Paul Peel, and Robert Field contribute historical depth to this strong sale which has a pre-sale estimate of $9 -13 million


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Donations, Fair or Unfair?


 Peter Paul Rubens The Massacre of the Innocents

Source: Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario has entered the final phase of Transformation AGO, the ambitious $257 Million renovation and restructuring project conjured up by Kenneth Thomson, Matthew Teitelbaum, and Frank Gehry.  Transformation AGO promises a 47% increase in gallery space, an impressive new facade that will stretch the length of Dundas St, and significant additions to the galleries collection through private donations.  The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens and Bernini’s Corpus highlight these private donations due to their rarity and star factor (yes there are stars in the art world), however the tax receipts issued for these items make up more then half of the galleries budget for its renovation.

How is this possible?  Well any private donation made to a government institution or charity in Canada is tax deductible.  Once an institution accepts a donation it is sent to the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board (CCPERB) for approval.  CCPERB consists of 10 board members, four of whom have been officers, members or employees of art galleries, museums, achieves, or libraries and four who have been dealers in fine art, antiques, or objects that form part of the national heritage.  If the item is deemed to be of “outstanding significance and national importance” then the board will place a fair market value on the work and issue the donor a tax receipt.


 AGO Facade

Source: Gehry International, Architects Inc

This tax break, introduced through the Income Tax Act, has significantly benefited Canada’s cultural institutions by improving public collections such as the AGO’s, however there are drawbacks to the process.  The option to donate cultural property enables individuals to avoid Capital Gains Tax and provides them with a tax credit that they must use in five years time.   As a result, the public ends up paying for the expansion of cultural collections while the donor gets a considerable break. 

 A donor could potentially make money through this process as well.  For example if a donor purchased a painting for $5 million and in that same year donated the piece and had it valued by CCPERB for $10 million then they would potentially make $5 million if their income tax over five years was higher then $10 million. 


 Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Corpus

Source: Art Gallery of Ontario

So far it seems that these drawbacks out weigh the advantages of the tax process and Toronto is a fine example.  Five of Toronto’s top cultural institutions have received significant donations over the past five years including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the National Ballet, the Gardner Museum of Ceramic Art, and the Toronto Opera Company, but it is important to keep in mind that while wealthy patrons are improving cultural collections the Canadian pulic are footing the bill.

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Museum Makes $18 Million in



Courtesy of Sotheby’s New York: 

At Sotheby’s on March 20th, there was applause after an extended bidding battle when an Important and Rare Archaic Bronze Wine Vessel and Cover (Fangjia), late Shang Dynasty, 13th -11th century B.C., from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, was purchased for a remarkable $8,104,000 by UK dealer Roger Keverne on behalf of Compton Verney, a museum outside Stratford-upon-Avon, England (lot 507, est. $2/3 million). The fangjia wine vessel, which set a new record for Chinese art at Sotheby’s New York, was the top lot of the two-day various-owners sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on March 19th-20th, which featured 480 lots of Chinese archaic bronzes, ceramics, stone sculpture, jades and rhinoceros horn carvings that totaled

$35,298,700 (est. $26.3/37.4 million*). Additionally, Sotheby’s March 18th single-owner sale of The Concordia House Collection: Fine Chinese Jades and Important Works of Art from a Midwestern Family, brought $5,137,160, over one and a half times its high estimate, on Monday (est. $2/2.9 million), bringing the sales total for Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art to $40,435,860 (est. $28.1/40 million), shattering the previous record for Chinese art sales in New York.

Twenty-three works from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, sold to benefit the restricted endowment for the purchase of works of art, brought a total of $18,358,000.

Joe-Hynn Yang, Head of Sotheby’s Chinese Works of Art Department, said: “Our two-day sales — which shattered the previous record for Chinese art sales in New York and set a new record for Chinese art at Sotheby’s New York — were exhilarating and represented a high point in my career at Sotheby’s. Both of our cover lots — our top two highlights in the sales — will enter museum collections and will be available to the public. We are particularly honored that Sotheby’s was the conduit by through the custodianship of these world-class masterpieces passed from one museum to another. The market responded selectively today but with feverish and often vocal bidding for the diverse works on offer; the competition was strong for the most important jade seal ever to be offered in the West and the most significant offering of rhinoceros horns ever to be offered at auction, as well as for the beautiful selection of Classical Chinese furniture and outstanding Song and Qing porcelain. The intense enthusiasm for jades and scholarly objects reinforced the demand for those categories that we witnessed in yesterday’s sale of the Concordia House Collection.”

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

Highlights of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Another highlight of the sale of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery pieces was an Important and Rare Massive Limestone Chimera, Six Dynasties, first half of the 6th century, which sold for $5,472,000, a record for a Chinese stone sculpture at auction, to an Asian private collector on the telephone, after a lengthy battle involving at least six bidders (lot 512, est. $1.5/2.5 million). This magnificent work is an extremely rare example of early secular stone statuary for mausoleums or ‘spirit roads’ in China. A pair of such beasts would have flanked the triumphal way leading to the tumulus (hill-tombs) of Emperors or Princes of the Liang Kingdom.

A Rare Limestone Seated Figure of a ‘Pensive’ Maitreya, Northern Wei dynasty of the early 6th century achieved $1,361,600, selling to Eskenazi Ltd, one of at least seven bidders who participated in an


extended battle (lot 503, est. $300/500,000). The maitreya is carved in the distinctive style characteristic of the Longmen Buddhist cave temples in Henan province, which represent the zenith of monumental stone carving works achieved by Chinese sculptors from the Northern Wei to the Song dynasty. A 6th century Limestone Wall Fragment of a Flying Apsaras Playing the Drum was also purchased by Eskenazi Ltd for $1,059,200 (lot 506, est. $200/300,000).

Another highlight of this offering is a Middle Western Zhou Massive Archaic Tripod Food Vessel (Li), circa late 10th or 9th century B.C., which realized $1,025,600, selling to a American Private collector (lot 511, est. $600/900,000). The vessel is highly important not only because of its rare, distinct bulging form, but also because of its long 65-character documentary inscription which also appears on another very similar tripod vessel in a private collection in Japan.

Property from Various-Owners

The cornerstone of the various-owners section of the sale was a Highly Important Imperial Jade ‘Dragon’ Seal, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1975) from the Collection of Mrs. James W. Alsdorf, which sold for $1,608,000 to an Asian Private collector (lot 626, est. $800,000/1 million). The square seal, made for the personal use of the Qianlong emperor, is exquisitely carved from deep celadon-jade and is surmounted by a pair of dragons. The unique sealface reads ‘Treasure of the Four Virtues and Ten Principles’ (Si De Shi Quan Zhi Bao) and was specially made to commemorate the Qianlong emperor’s 80th birthday in 1790 AD.

Also highlighting the sale was a Magnificent Carved Celadon-Glazed Vase embellished with beautifully painted floral panels which commanded $1,160,000, selling to an Asian dealer (lot 818, est. $1/1.5 million), together with a Very Fine Yongle period (1403-1425) meiping Vase painted in soft tones of underglaze-blue with a single undulating lotus stem, which sold for $1,048,000, to an American Private collector (lot 750, est. $900,000/1.2 million).

Also featured in this sale were a number of Outstanding ‘You Kan’ Libation cups, including one finely carved with a reclining scholar and a poetic inscription signed ‘You’ which sold for $540,000 to an Asian dealer (lot 376, est. $250/350,000) and another depicting chickens and signed ‘You Kan’ which brought $480,000, selling to an Asian dealer (lot 373, est. $200/300,000).

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Art as a Business? 

The Gates

 Christo & Jeanne Claude The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005


It surprises me how many people do not view the production and sale of art as a business.  Having taken Art History and studied the canon from the Renaissance to present I am not about to argue that Art is purely created for financial gain, however the belief that the creation and sale of art are not important enough to warrant status as business practices does not sit well with me.   When Christo and Jeanne Claude installed The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005 in New York City’s Central Park neither artist collected any funds for the project but the instillation created income for hundreds, if not thousands of people.  The construction crews who installed The Gates were paid for their labour, the design drawings were sold through galleries and auction houses, people even traveled to New York specifically to view the instillation creating an influx of tourism dollars.   

Christo and Jeanne Claude are definitely a minority in this market as they do not produce artwork for personal financial gain.  The majority of artists need to make a living and therefore are required to sell their work regardless of their artistic beliefs.  To me it is astounding how many artists have never taken a business course or hired a financial advisor.  The production and sale of art, like any other business, requires the tracking of inventory, the calculation of overhead costs, and the balancing of financial statement at the end of every year.  This may be one of the major reasons why the art market has not reached business status in the eyes of the financial markets however a combination of respect is required for this to happen.


Perhaps the best way to explain this lack of respect is through my personal experience at the University of Victoria.  When I was doing my BA in Art History I had many friends in the Business and Commerce program.  Naturally I had many friends in the Fine Art department as well.  To me it was surprising how my two sets of friends would talk about each others departments.  My Business and Commerce friends looked at the Fine Arts department as a joke deeming them the “Hippies”.  They could not understand why someone would get involved in a profession that produced the lowest average income per graduate.  My Fine Art friends were the opposite.  They called the Business and Commerce students the “Suits” and could not see the point in committing their lives to an industry bound by rules where you were most likely to sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day.   The problem was that neither group saw the benefits of combining the two industries.   

In any event the art world is becoming increasingly aware of the fact that understanding the art market requires a strong background in business and finance, while the business world is beginning to realize that the $30 billion art market is a worth investing in.  Art market professionals and financial advisors are also acting upon this new awareness by working together to create art funds such as The Fine Art Fund, founded by former Christie’s employee Phillip Hoffman.  In addition the last six years have seen the creation of more and more international art fairs and the birth of the “Art Consultant”.  Art Business programs have been developed by major institutions such as Sotheby’s Institute of Art and York University.  Sotheby’s Institute has focused on the study of the business of art such as marketing, valuation, and legal aspects while York has decided to offer a combination MBA and Art History degree.   

The realization that Art and Business can co-exist is important to the future of both markets and the development of alternative asset management.  With the recent developments of art funds, the production of art consultants, and the continued investment in Art Business education I am hoping that this trend will continue long into the future and breath new life into both the artistic and investment professions.     

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Contemporary Canadian Art has Never had it so Good  

Lise Gervaise 

LISE GERVAIS, Les Jeux Controptiques Opus 3.

Oil on canvas, 106.7 x 101.6 cm (42 x 40 in)   

Source: Sotheby’s Canada   

As the spring season approaches many collectors are beginning to salivate at the thought of the up-coming Canadian Art sales and why not, contemporary Canadian art has never had it so good.  After fifteen years of consecutive growth and auction records set for an astounding 25 artists at that last Sotheby’s/Ritchie’s sale, collectors are beginning to see the benefits of buying Canadian.   The Painters Eleven produced some of the best results last fall with Kazuo Nakamura ($48,000), Jack Bush ($43,200 for a work on paper), Alexandra Luke ($10,200) and Tom Hodgson ($10,200) all achieving top results.  In addition Yves Gaucher set a new record when Deux Bleus – Deux Gris more then tripled its low estimate of $12,000 and sold for $48,000.  Lise Gervais was another show stopper with her vibrant canvas Les Jeux Controptiques Opus 3 setting a record price of $21,600.   

During the winter Toronto also played host to an impressive array of post-war contemporary art openings.  I had the pleasure of attending the Marcelle Ferron: Works on Paper exhibit held at the Ingram Gallery in association with Galerie Simon Blais on Avenue Road and it was spectacular.  This intoxicating exhibition of Automatist works had never been exposed to the public as the entire collection originated from the Ferron Estate.  The range of works was impressive stretching from the early 1950s to the mid 1990s, and displayed Ferron’s progression from a vibrant and boundless brushstroke to a more controlled and minimalist form of expression. 


MARCELLE FERRON, Sans titre, 1981, oil on canvas, 97 x 163 cm (38 x 64 in)

Source: Galerie Simon Blais 

Mira Godard Gallery timed their exhibition of Takao Tanabe’s new paintings perfectly with a retrospective of his life’s work at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg.  Tanabe’s new work was a combination of Prairie landscapes from central Canada and seascapes of the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.  One of my favourite works was Island 3/06: Catala Is., a vertical canvas that focused on a solitary island in the Juan de Fuca Strait, alone and at peace.  One felt as if they had just reached the beach on a damp evening just before the sun set and while the calm upon the water preceeded the approaching storm rolled in. 

Takao Tanabe

Takao Tanabe, Island 3/06: Catala Is, 2006.  Acrylic on canvas 48 x 13 inches.

Source: Mira Godard Gallery

As spring aproaches the gallery season will begin to come to an end and the auction sales in May will draw to a close another fantastic 2006/2007 of primary and secondary market sales.  In any event I am looking forward to what lies ahead in the coming months before the summer and I believe Canadian Contemporary art will continue to surprise and enthrall. 

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Just a Little Introduction.

The C.C.C would like to introduce Joseph Rumi, our representative and blogger extrodinaire in Toronto.

Im going to leave the rest of this in his capable hands!

I hope you enjoy everything he has to say.

Izzie Egan. Founder of the C.C.C.

Joseph Rumi at the A.A.F London.     Joseph Rumi at the A.A.F London.

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