• " Money makes the world go around, The world go around, The world go around
      Money makes the world go around, It makes the world go 'round.
      A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound, A buck or a pound, A buck or a pound, Is all that makes the world go around,
      That clinking clanking sound, Can make the world go 'round."

      - Cabaret / - Voice of Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli).
      Authors: Ralph Burns, John Kander, Fred Ebb

      • The ART MARKET, how to describe it?
        "An enormous bubble, a second previous to bursting" or a "Solid Investment opportunity with high profit assured" you can make your bet, I don't have mine clear.
        We all must agree that prices reached in the last 20 years have become totally indecent and out of any logic, but it seems that there is enough money out there to keep it running higher and higher...
        The only sure thing is that with 10 million USD in the 50's you could buy the Guggenheim collection and today it is totally out of reach no matter how much money the Arabs or Chinese could be willing to pay.
        NYFA has a very interesting article by Todd Gibson called "What happens when the bubble bursts"
        This section tries to give a clear view of why Modigliani is so complicated and difficult to work with.
        I will focus it 90% painting, 8% drawings, 2% sculpture.
        It is going to be short in drawings, it could have been much more "meaty" but it is really difficult to follow the track of so many drawings "by Modi" that are almost daily on sale or at auction so I will recall only the big-shots in the matter.
        Sculpture is much more easy, only a few still in private hands (10) and the rest are located in main museums (17 to be exact of a total of 27 confirmed, -33 probable ones-).

        A Modigliani sculpture sold in Christie’s Paris in July 2010. Tête de Caryatid, 1910-12, soared over its very conservative €4m-€6m estimate, going to an anonymous phone buyer for €43.2m. (57,000,000 USD)
        The piece, which had been part of the Gaston Lévy collection since 1927 is an exceptional work. Actually in the hands of Dmitry Rybolovlev.


        Nu Couche" sold in Christie’s New York in November 2015. Sold to a Chinese buyer for the indecent quantity of $ 170,405,000 USD.
        The piece, which had been part of the Netter, Gualino, Mattioli collections....

        Nu couche sur le cote gauche or the "grand nu" sold in Sotheby's NY in May 2018. Sold to an unknown buyer for the incredible amount of: $ 157.159.000 USD
        The work has a Zborowski, Netter , Private coll Paris, private coll. USA provenance.

        Take note that in November 1984 Sotheby's NY sold one of the best nudes for the quantity of 4.620.000 USD
        So the price has incremented x 36 in just 34 years.

        So painting is the most interesting task to work at a first glance to give a clear idea, go to the art market situation for Modigliani to focus it more:

        1.- General situation for Modigliani's market
        2.- Auction houses
        3.- Commercial Galleries

        While during his lifetime he was always on the verge of survival, 90 years after his death he is one of the most expensive and searched for prizes for the wealthy collectors.
        The biggest part of his masterworks (mainly the nudes and the kids, both can be named as his most desired production) are in first names collections or in public museums so when a masterwork like " La belle romaine" gets onto
        the market you can see the wealthy and rich biting each other for the "thing."
        To get a Modigliani for the living room is a complete landmark for the rich, it can be easily recognizable by others and fits the owners into the select club of the "indecently rich."
        Apart from social reality, if you are going to pay 10 million for a dead shark in a tank and your living room is going to have a formaldehyde half rotten fish smell for the rest of your life,
        to acquire a Modigliani shows much more taste and culture...

        So the facts are:

        - Modigliani is recognizable by all the audiences.
        - To have one means status in capital letters.
        - Rich and wealthy collectors want one.
        - There is a Market for everyone.
        - There are many unscrupulous dealers and some decent dealers.
        - Modigliani's work is limited and scarce.
        - The fights of the experts means a lack of trust so that means fewer available works.
        - The Art market is a bubble that seems endless, so prices are still increasing more and more.

        Extract from: "The Expert versus the Object. Judging fakes and false attributions in the Visual arts"
        Ronald D. Spencer. Oxford University press, 2004. LINK

        Page 98, the role of the catalogue raisonné in the art market, by Peter Kraus.
        History of the catalogue raisonné in  Modigliani's work seems a real soap opera.
        It is difficult to do justice to the intricacies of the situation within the confines of this essay, so what follows is a simple summary, Modigliani died in 1920 at the age of 35 years. In 1929, Arthur Pfannstiel published the first serious study of his work, which was reissued in 1956 along with a catalogue raisonné. In 1958 and 1965, an Italian scholar, Ambrogio Ceroni, published a two-volume catalog of the paintings and drawings by Modigliani. Ceroni is so far the only universally accepted authority on Modigliani. He died in 1970, and we know that while everything is indeed from Modigliani in the catalog, there is a considerable volume of work missing, and there begins the novel. 
        Modigliani's work has so much demand that the figures of undoubted works are on the verge of reaching 9 figures. This expansion happened during the last ten years, previously his prices were more or less normal.
        Prices of undoubted works in Ceroni can reach 8 figures minimum.
        Besides Modigliani's remarkable sales record, there is also a Modigliani fever, the romantic, bohemian life of the "maudit" genius.
        Some raw & cold data:
        market volume by medium in modigliani
        In resume, the main market by volume still in the drawings, it's much less unregulated while paintings increases
        Prints and cast even in non original ( or fake, who cares...) still in the same
        price evolution for Modigliani's work
        The evolution is not clear, yes it is an exponential increase x 35 in some cases while in others it is contaminated by the nudes,
        a portrait of a children or a nude really moves the water while a portrait of a writer or a friend just make some little waves.
        The main country of buyers still the US but Russia and China have step 2 and 3
        The main place for selling stills in NY & London ( Sotheby's /Christie's)
        A work in Ceroni's catalogue still lead the race.
        a work in any other just can expect a local auction.
        On living experts:
        Restellini still in the doubt, we have recently seen some mentions in sotheby's but not as the main source.
        Probably he has lost his magic moment ( and future doesn't seem bright ...)

        Parisot is now totally discarded, not even mentioned.
        By one side it's a pity it took so long to discard him, on the other thank god finally.

        Wayne by the moment must not be very active in market terms or he keeps it in private
        My own conclusion:
        More mess with experts means more doubts
        More doubts means lower number of works for the market
        less works means more price

        Just that.
    Auction houses are the perpetrators and those responsible for what's good and what's bad in the commercial situation of the work by Modigliani.
    The two majors, Christie's and Sotheby's, say even in public they do not trust present experts (see Liz Taylor Modigliani affair) and they only bring to the floor the works listed by Ceroni.
    They face the fact that Ceroni's catalogue is full of gaps and in some cases strong mistakes but for them it is reliable and trustable, until a better one comes...
    Until then, it remains as the only valid source, the other experts are just "people passing by"...

    Everyone outside the art world (even the common buyers) think that they are the main source for getting knowledge, expertise or discovering lost works.
    The truth is that their work is to sell not to certify or expertise (that is only for the press release...)

    To do expertise or discoveries, they work with experts (not their employees) that change from time to time and they do not feel or are responsible for the given opinion by those experts (in any legal or moral terms).
    As in the rest of the page I'm talking about paintings. Drawings are almost impossible in auction terms, drawings is where the new experts earn "prestige", so I will not even mention them.
    • Here is a brief description of Sotheby's & Christie's biggest features (all listed in Ceroni), some works not in Ceroni, and a conclusion in numbers and data to explain the game...
    • After an analysis the result is:
    • 1.- Fewer works at auction = 370% increase in prices.
      2.- Fewer works bought-in (unsold) than with any other major artist = less risk for the auction house.
      3.- 370% increase in prices = 400% benefit in 5 to 9 years term.
    • Fewer works, more profits...
    auction market for modigliani modigliani increase prices
    Nu assis sur un divan 
    (La Belle Romaine)
    New York, November 2010
    Ceroni Nº 192
    68,962,500 USD
    Jeanne Hébuterne 
    New York, Nov. 2010
    Ceroni Nº 174
    19,122,500 USD
    Jeanne Hébuterne au collier
    New York, May 2010
    Ceroni Nº 173
    13,802,500 USD
    Jeunne Femme 
    (Totote de la Gaite)
    London, June 2007
    Ceroni Nº 210
    6,479,184 USD
    Garçon à la Veste Bleu
    London, June 2004
    Ceroni Nº 259
    9,593,674 USD


    Giovanotto dai capelli rossi
    New York, November 2002 
    Ceroni Nº 301
    8,479,500 USD 
    NY, 1984 Price: 1,900,000 USD

    442 % BENEFIT
    Fillette assise en robe
    New York, November 2000 
    Ceroni Nº 240
    14,200,000 USD
    Oscar Miestchaninoff 
    New York, November 2007
    Ceroni Nº 153
    30,841,000 USD
    NY, 1995 Price: 9,352,500 USD

    + 300 % BENEFIT
    Jeune fille assise en chemise 
    New York, November 2007
    Ceroni Nº 264
    16,841,000 USD
    NY, 1998 Price: 4,842,500 USD

    +400 % BENEFIT
    Jeune fille au béret 
    London, February, 2007
    Ceroni Nº 244
    11,899,348 USD
    Homme au chapeau
    London, February, 2007
    Ceroni Nº 88
    7,726,340 USD
    Vénus (Nu debout, nu médicis) 
    New York, November, 2006
    Ceroni Nº 189
    15,920,000 USD
    Homme assis sur fond orange
    London, June, 2006
    Ceroni nº 273
    6,723,264 USD
    Le buste rouge (Cariatide)
    London, June, 2006
    Ceroni nº 38 
    6,413,640 USD
    La servante au tablier raye
    New York, November, 1998
    Ceroni nº 123 
    3,082,500 USD
    Fillette assise 
    New York, November, 2000
    Ceroni nº 225
    5,286,000 USD
    Beatrice Hastings devant une porte 
    New York, November, 2002
    Ceroni Nº 81
    4,189,500 USD
    Moïse Kisling seduto 
    New York, November 2005
    Ceroni Nº 107
    5,616,000 USD
    Les deux filles 
    London, February, 2009
    Ceroni Nº 242
    9,400,566 USD
    Donna con collana rossa 
    New York, May 2005
    Ceroni Nº 237
    4,608,000 USD
    Nu couché 
    New York, November, 2003
    Ceroni Nº 184
    26,887,500 USD
    Nu couché 
    New York, May, 2018
    Ceroni Nº 184
    157.159.000 USD
    Le fils du concierge
    New York, May, 1999
    Ceroni Nº 239
    5,502,500 USD
    Le fils du concierge 
    New York, November, 2006
    Ceroni Nº 239
    31,096,000 USD
    THE TOP :
    + 585% BENEFIT

    IN JUST 15 YEARS>>>>
    THE TOP :
    + 500% BENEFIT

    IN JUST 7 YEARS>>>>
    Conclusion: Children report faster benefit than nudes even if their prices are much lower
    Le couple
    By Marc Restellini
    By Christian Parisot / By J. Lanthemann
    Estimate: $538,850
    Bought In / UNSOLD
    Woman portrait
    London, June, 2011
    By Marc Restellini
    By J. Lanthemann
    2,593,003 USD
    London, June, 2004 
    By Marc Restellini
    By Christian Parisot
    2,213,122 USD
    Young woman with black hair
    London, February,2012
    By Marc Restellini
    Est.: $ 1,100,000 - 1,600,000
    1,112,749 USD
    Do you think they can be more trusted than Ceroni?

    Just take a look at this: 

    - The eye of Restellini = has lost 50% value from the price reached in 2004 - 2011 to that achieved in 2012.
    - Parisot's eye is not even valued without Restellini attached.
    Even more darker and obscure than the Auctions. 
    Here it becomes a person to person exchange so it's very difficult to see commercial galleries with Modigliani works for sale in open view.
    In any case they are in my opinion and after watching the mess with Knoedler & Co. some of the most dangerous parts in the art world (auctions suffer from public exposure, but what happens inside a gallery, stays in...)
    On Modigliani, only a few deal in that high rank as to be able to sell works undoubted, on them the main is the Nahmad Gallery.

    So during my investigation, I contacted them (Nahmad Gallery in NY) to ask for help in my research and to obtain samples of pigments from their works my conversation was:

    NG: OK this Modigliani seems to be fine, but we can't help you.
    ME: Why not?
    NG: Because we do not need to be part of the studio.
    ME: But you will get a complete studio of yours for free and with total confidentiality. 
    NG: Yes, but not interested... 
    ME: C' mon please...
    NG: Sorry, the only thing I can tell you is that if you tried to sell me this beautiful work I would not accept it even if you bring a photo of Modigliani next to the painting, original invoice by the artist or even a letter by him saying it's original.
    ME: for god sake...
    NG:Sorry that the way the thing are at this moment, maybe in a few years they change...
    ( that was exactly what I was trying to do...)
    ME: OK Thank you anyway.
    NG: Sorry, wish u luck. bye

    To know more on the Nahmad galleries, just look at this nice links:

    1.- Helly Nahmad Gallery Raided by FBI in Russian Mob Probe (ARTFLIX DAILY, 18/04/2013)..................LINK
    2.- Agents Descend on a New York Gallery, Charging Its Owner (NEW YORK TIMES, 16/04/2013)........LINK

    Similar conversation with other 4 ones...

    Sad but real, they are doing business, they don't want to know nothing of any possible risk.
    A very nice example of how trust they can be:
    German police believe American actor, Steve Martin may have been a victim in what is being called the biggest art fraud scam in that country’s history.
    A report in the German newspaper Der Spiegel says investigators at Berlin’s state criminal police office (LKA) believe that in July 2004 Martin unwittingly purchased a fake copy of Landschaft mit Pferden, (Landscape with Horses), a 1915 painting by the German-Dutch modernist Heinrich Campendonk, from a Paris gallery, Cazeau-Béraudière.
    beltrachi and the fake work
    Beltracchi and the fake work sold to Steve Martin

    He paid an estimated €700,000 (around $850,000 at the time), after receiving assurances of the painting’s authenticity from a Campendonk expert,
    who identified the artist’s signature in a panel on the back of the painting. At that price, Martin’s acquisition was considered a bargain.
    Steve Martin paid $850,000 for fake painting, report says
    Read More on this fakes scandal>>
    Vanity fair >>
    This is exactly the same gallery owner that worked during 2 decades for the Wildenstein that said in an interview the next sentence:
    "I prefer to have a Modigliani painting that once hung in the apartment of Paul Guillaume than a painting in Ceroni" >>

    20 years after Marc Restellini's catalogue is published, everybody will forget Ceroni" >>
    What an eye..
    2nd Worst both at Tefaf / not my opinion is the opinion of Blouin Artinfo:

    The booth of Jacques de la Béraudière (Geneva) was approached with caution by potential buyers. Formerly named Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière,the gallery had been involved in the Beltracchi-scandal, which uncovered a number of faked paintings, including a work by Max Ernst, “Tremblement de la Terre” (1925), which had been shown on TEFAF in 2004. 

    Another lovely example related to Modigliani & how much we should trust the source to buy

    Helena Rubinstein amassed a huge art collection, hundreds of pieces of African art (to Guillaume many of them), Modigliani, Derain, she was friend of Picasso, etc. etc
    She was one of the most respected, richest and strongest woman on her time.
    She had millions to spare and lots of people to receive advice from
    She was one of the best customers of Paul Guillaume Gallery where she acquired her Modigliani's.
    helena rubinstein near the 50s
    and she was sold at least 6 fake Modigliani ( and 2 good ones Mme. Dorival with hat and woman with blue scarf)

    helena and a modigliani?
    So if you think you are much more smarter than a woman who made herself to millionaire in a time when woman couldn't open a bank account without their husband signature...
    Just to remember:

    This is exactly the same gallery owner that worked during 2 decades for the Wildenstein that said in an interview the next sentence:
    "I prefer to have a Modigliani painting that once hung in the apartment of Paul Guillaume than a painting in Ceroni" >>
    20 years after Marc Restellini's catalogue is published, everybody will forget Ceroni" >>
    What an eye..

    I bet Helena is waiting to kick his ass in the other life...
And I could go on and on placing similar things related to galleries like the Knoedler case, etc.
So then you can go on and trust the "most" reputed gallery...