|Art at Auction at Sotheby's|
Written by Samantha Tutone
Art as a cultural item has always been associated with two things: extreme poverty or extreme wealth. The poverty usually belongs to the artist or producer of the art, and the wealth is typically that of the commissioner or purchaser of the art. The value of art is ever changing and is usually, as one could say, in the eye of the critic. Fame, of both artist and artwork, contribute to the cultural value of art. There are some places, however, where it is an occupation to assign monetary value to art: Sotheby’s Auction House. Here, buyers and sellers come together to privately or publicly acquire art. The collections and items bought and sold at Sotheby’s auction is extensive and impressive.
History of Sotheby's
Sotheby’s Auction House was established in 1744 when Samuel Baker sold the entirety of the library of Sir John Stanley. It’s expansion from books to fine arts, antiquities, jewelry, and decorative arts grew with the increasing global auction market. Now Sotheby’s has 90 locations in 40 different countries. Sotheby’s is the largest art business in the world with profits grossing an average $5.8 billion a year. The auction house prides itself on having impeccable quality and impeachable provenance for all of the items it sells, including the antiquities. Sotheby’s has a longstanding rivalry with the other global art auction house: Christie’s.
Various Departments at Sotheby's
Sotheby’s Auction House has a near endless list of departments (over 70): from handcrafted English furniture, and Scandinavian paintings, to watches, Egyptian antiquities, and street art and graffiti art. The house even has art storage facilities for rent or purchase, for proper atmospheric and environmental housing of delicate collections. For the wealthy wino, there is a special Sotheby’s Wine department, dedicated to the auction of rare and fine wines, including wines found on sunken Spanish ships. Sotheby’s also has an international realty department. There they search for the most exclusive and prominent properties around the world in the most beautiful and sought-after locations. The auction house also offers appraisals for all manner of arts.
Pricing of Art
Art on sale at Sotheby’s usually fetches a high price. The price is also often directly correlated to the popularity, prestige, and provenance of the piece or artist at auction. In 2006, works by Banksy, stencil artist from Britain, went up for auction and sold fore more than £50,000 for a piece. However, street art and graffiti art are not nominative auctions for Sotheby’s. The rise of Bansky as an artist (and not just social vandal) greatly influenced Sotheby’s decision to sell his work. Banksy’s work has been gaining notoriety since 2003. Even celebrity Angelina Jolie spent more than £200,000 on a Bansky stencil. Combinations of recognizable images and humor that make a social or political statement typify his work. A second auction of Bansky stencil and graffiti art, in 2007 raked in an approximate £167,000. The sale of Bansky’s work has given him even more acclaim and attention. It has also brought street art and graffiti art to the forefront of the contemporary art world.
To learn more about contemporary and cutting edge art visit Thumbprint Gallery. It is located at 920 Kline St. #104 in La Jolla, San Diego. The gallery exhibits contemporary, urban, lowbrow, and graffiti art from local artists. It is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12-4pm.