Susan Moore

Jeff Koons’s work is childish — just like us

The contrast could not have been more acute. It came the day after a press release from Christie’s New York pinged into my inbox announcing the forthcoming sale of Jeff Koons’s ‘Balloon Dog (Orange)’ on 12 November. Even by current auction-house standards, the hype was of heroic immoderation but it was the novel brazen pandering

A step away from buying toothpaste

Fifty years ago it was not possible to bid at auction via the telephone — that first historic telephone bid was made for a Monet at Christie’s in 1967. Now the auction house’s Great Rooms, and indeed every other international saleroom, is lined by banks of telephones and digital screens, and absentee clients may also

Back to the future | 11 October 2012

Two pop-up art fairs border Regent’s Park in London. To the south is Frieze London, an edgy fair-cum-fairground offering the thrills and spills of the latest and most innovative trends in global contemporary art. Launched a decade ago, it was unique among ambitious international art fairs in proving an instant and overwhelming success. Last year

All the fun of the fair | 3 March 2012

It is easy to take the art and antiques fair for granted. After all, thousands of them take place every year, from humble events in village halls — cardboard boxes, old newspaper and cups of tea — to fairs so glamorous that on opening nights the ticket alone can cost $5,000. It was not ever

Money talk

At least one market posted strong results in November. That was the market for contemporary art. In just four days in New York — 7 to 10 November — a phenomenal $775 million was spent on postwar and contemporary art at auction alone (who knows what deals were transacted privately). Sotheby’s evening sale exceeded its

Going private

One of the greatest Renaissance paintings remaining in private hands, Hans Holbein the Younger’s ‘The Darmstadt Madonna’, was sold discreetly this summer. It was not offered at auction but sold by private treaty sale — auction-speak for a negotiated private sale rather than a public auction — in a deal brokered by the art consultant

Out of the ordinary | 4 June 2011

From high in the sky over Cappadocia Susan Moore looks down at part of the largest contemporary land art project in the world There are few artists whose work is best seen by hot-air balloon. There are even fewer whose works can only be photographed in their entirety by satellite. To describe the Australian Andrew

Chinese burn

A kind of madness has taken grip of the art market. It seems that the world’s super-rich have decided that money has no value — or at least that it has a value different from that understood by the rest of us. Just this month, one of Alma Tadema’s fanciful biblical epics was sold for

Art is a high-risk business

Never before have so many people in so many places collected works of art. In the past decade, the auction houses in particular have made heroic efforts to expand their markets, both by reaching out to emerging economies and by embracing new technologies. Thanks to instant translation by online search engines and live online auction

Art fairs: Satellite superiority

It is a critical moment for the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris — and for the French art trade. It is a critical moment for the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris — and for the French art trade. For this year’s edition of this most august art and antiques fair (which ended last week) —

The hard sell

For all the billion-dollar turnovers and glamorous, high-profile sales in New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, the top level of fine-art auctioneering is a notoriously high-overhead, low-profit business. At times, it is even a no-profit business (Sotheby’s made a loss last year). How the Big Two auction houses have grappled to respond to this

Shutting up shop

One day, perhaps sooner rather than later, it may be possible to draw a telling analogy between the practices of the world financial markets which propelled the global economy to the brink of recession and those which prompted the phenomenal rise of the international contemporary art market. After all, so many of the players are

Special relationship

For the past 20 years or more the auction houses have been doing their utmost to wrest the retail art market out of the hands of the dealers. Few would disagree that they have had considerable success. In taking over Sotheby’s in 1983, the Detroit shopping mall billionaire Alfred Taubman saw what he called ‘a

Cult of the masterpiece

Location, location, location. On the morning that Christie’s prepared to launch the art market’s latest high-profile, big-buck season of Impressionist, modern and contemporary sales in New York — a series beadily scrutinised by the throng of art-world Jeremiahs who have long predicted the end of this particular art-market bubble — the auction house announced that

The ideally expensive thing

Susan Moore on how the Americans have become net sellers of works of art Junius Spencer Morgan caused a sensation in 1876 when he paid the staggering sum of £10,100 — more than the National Gallery of London’s annual purchase grant — for Gainsborough’s celebrated portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Since then a seemingly

What a waste

Tons of sterilised domestic and industrial waste lay strewn across the gallery floor. Against one wall mounds of unidentifiable detritus are shrouded with ribbons of black tape like seaweed on rocks. Beyond, the work of sifting and sorting and baling recyclable material has begun. Despite the sanitisation, the place reeks. All around are the sounds

Aiming high and wide

‘It is a compelling moment in the art world,’ says Robin Woodhead, Sotheby’s executive vice president and chief executive, Europe and Asia. ‘There has been a fundamental change in the market worldwide. Growing numbers of people have begun to take an interest in art, and we see continuing effective economies and new emerging markets —

Rich pickings

Forget London, Paris and New York. For any serious collector of art and antiques there is just one unmissable event: The European Fine Art Fair at Maastricht. No one could have predicted 20 years ago that this once modest fair in a small Dutch town few had heard of before the eponymous treaty would become

Crisis of confidence

What do you find at the world’s great antiques fairs these days? The answer, increasingly, is modern and contemporary art. Few will lament the disappearance of doleful, second-rate period furniture in favour of Art Deco and post-war design, or the introduction of major international art galleries offering the work of 20th-century masters. But as growing