Robust sales reported at Art Basel Miami Beach

Xavier Hufkens, a renowned art dealer, expressed his relief and satisfaction with the outcome of this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach fair, despite the initial uncertainties due to global political tensions and economic downturn. The event, which is the largest of its kind in the Americas, featured 277 exhibitors and saw significant sales, including a 2023 painting by Tracey Emin for £1.2mn and a new bronze and wood sculpture by Danh Võ for €240,000.

Art adviser Morgan Long observed a more subdued crowd this year, which she believes is a positive change as attendees were more focused on purchasing art rather than attending parties. The fair’s new layout was also well-received, with Hufkens noting that it was more spacious and easier to navigate.

The highest reported sale was Philip Guston’s “Painter at Night” (1979) which sold for $20mn through Hauser & Wirth. However, most transactions ranged between $50,000 and $500,000. Notably, Frank Stella’s first Black Painting, “Delta” (1958), remained unsold after the first day despite its $45mn asking price.

This winter, female Old Masters are making a strong presence. Robilant+Voena in New York is hosting an exhibition dedicated to women artists from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Among the featured works is “Penitent Magdalene” (c1625-30) by Artemisia Gentileschi, which is now valued at over $5mn.

Virginia Brilliant, the gallery’s director of Old Masters, acknowledges the increasing interest in under-represented artists. However, she notes the challenge of finding high-quality works backed by scholarly research. Some of the works on display, including those by Angelica Kauffman, are within the annual acquisition budget of many institutions.

At Sotheby’s Old Masters auction in London, a 1615 still life by Clara Peeters sold for £550,000. Next month, the auction house will offer 12 works by French artist Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, with a total estimate of $2.4mn-$3.5mn.

The estate of American artist James Rosenquist will offer about 50 of his prints at Phillips in New York on February 15. The sale aims to attract a new generation of collectors, rather than generate profit. Cary Leibowitz, co-head of Phillips’s editions department, emphasizes the importance of Rosenquist’s work, comparing him to iconic artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The Filthy Fox Auction Club, co-founded by artist Paula Parole and design manager Alexandra Hochgürtel, is aiming to make auctions more accessible to young artists and collectors. The club, which runs its second sale this weekend, was established after the founders noticed that art students often undervalue the auction process. The pair initially used a £1,000 award from the University of the Arts London to cover costs, and now charge a 20% buyer’s premium. The auction will feature 44 works by 14 artists from art schools including Central Saint Martins, Goldsmiths, Slade and the Royal College of Art.