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Space Aged: Bottle of Wine From Space Station Could Sell for $1 Million

It was a cool and dark environment, but not your traditional wine cellar.

Not when it involved orbiting the Earth about 250 miles up at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour aboard the International Space Station, which is where a celebrated bottle of red wine from France’s Bordeaux region spent 14 months, according to Christie’s auction house.

The bottle, a Pétrus from the year 2000, is now being sold by Christie’s, which lists the estimated price of the bottle at $1 million. The company is calling it a “space-aged” wine for discerning connoisseurs, as private-sector monetization of space exploration and research ascends. Sip slowly.

“This bottle of Pétrus 2000 marks a momentous step in the pursuit of developing and gaining a greater understanding of the maturation of wine,” Tim Triptree, the international director of Christie’s wine and spirits department, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Renowned for its complexity and tasting notes of black truffles, black cherries, licorice and mulberry, the 21-year-old Pétrus is regarded as one of the best vintages in the world of wine. A 750-milliliter bottle typically fetches several thousand dollars.

Decanter reported.

Wine Spectator reported.

That same year, a rare bottle of Macallan whisky hand-painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon sold for 1.2 million pounds (about $1.7 million in current U.S. dollars), Christie’s said. Earlier in 2018, two other rare bottles of whisky each sold for $1 million.

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Turkey Fights for Return of a Work It Says Was Looted

The marble idol was carved as many as 6,000 years ago, a 9-inch-tall female figure with a sleek, abstract form, its head tilted slightly upward as if staring into the firmament.

By the 1960s the idol had been transported to the United States, where it was in the possession of the court tennis star and art collector Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife, Edith, and known as “The Guennol Stargazer.”

Christie’s listed the stargazer for sale in 2017, drawing the attention of the Turkish government, which asked for the auction to be halted.

The Turkish government then sued Christie’s, saying the idol had been looted. The government asked the court to find that it is the rightful owner of the idol and cited the 1906 Ottoman Decree, which asserts broad ownership of antiquities found in Turkey. But the auction proceeded and the idol fetched a price of $14.4 million, before the unidentified buyer backed away.

agreed to return a collection known as the Lydian Hoard, which included more than 200 gold, silver and bronze objects from the reign of King Croesus of Lydia, a kingdom in western Asia Minor that flourished in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.

And in 2012, the government of Turkey asked museums in Los Angeles, New York and Washington to turn over dozens of artifacts it said were looted from the country’s archaeological sites.

It is generally accepted that the item at issue in the lawsuit originated in Kulaksizlar, the home of the only workshop known to have produced the stargazers. The figures were so-called because of the angle at which a large head rests on a thin neck, Christie’s said in an online description, creating “the whimsical impression of the figure staring up at the heavens.”

When the Guennol Stargazer was first listed for auction, Christie’s said it was “considered to be one of the most impressive of its type known to exist,” adding that it had been on loan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at various periods from 1966 to 2007.

The Turkish government said that one of its witnesses, Neil Brodie, a senior research fellow in the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, would provide “comprehensive scientific evidence” for his conclusion that the idol was almost certainly found in Turkey.

for part of the Lydian Hoard. (The museum’s former director, Thomas Hoving, once referred to Klejman as among his “favorite dealer-smugglers.”)

Christie’s and Steinhardt have maintained that the Turkish government cannot prove ownership of the idol under the 1906 decree because it has “no direct evidence of where or when the Stargazer Idol was found, excavated or exported: it has no witnesses to the excavation or export and no photographs.”

The defendants also have said that Turkey knew about the presence of the idol in New York as early as 1992 but did not act on that knowledge.

“Turkey’s 25-year delay in making its claim baited the trap for dealers, collectors and auction houses,” defense lawyers said in court papers. “And set them up for huge losses when Turkey claimed the Idol only after it came up for sale at a major auction house.”

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Basquiat Sells for $41.9 Million at Christie’s in Hong Kong

“Warrior,” a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that was said to symbolize the struggles of Black men in a white-dominated world, sold for $41.9 million, with fees, at Christie’s auction house in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Although Christie’s said it was the highest price paid at auction for a Western artwork in Asia, that may be a technicality: At a Sotheby’s New York sale in 2017, the Japanese billionaire collector Yusaku Maezawa paid $110 million for Basquiat’s “Untitled.” It remains the artist’s auction record.

Estimated at $31 million to $41 million, “Warrior” was offered as an unusual single lot. It leads a week of 20th and 21st century livestreamed auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in London and Paris, which also include an old master and a rediscovered van Gogh. Christie’s was betting on Basquiat’s global appeal to help energize the art market as it tried to emerge from the pandemic-year slump.

Annual art sales fell 22 percent, to $50 billion, in 2020, compared to 2019, with revenues from public auctions declining 30 percent to $17.6 billion, according to a recent report by UBS and Art Basel. Supply of top art works remains tight, with few distress sales or big estates on the horizon near term. Asking prices are astronomical, making it hard to close deals, dealers and auction executives said.

$69.3 million sale of a work by the digital artist Beeple at Christie’s earlier this month.

Credit…The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, via Sotheby’s

Both Beeple and Basquiat “have a place,” said Alberto Mugrabi, the collector and dealer, whose father paid $250,000 for “Warrior” in the mid-1990s. “They are both in a category of very few artists. Beeple will bring a new audience to the art world and it’s an encouraging thing to see.”

While the outcome for Beeple’s work was unpredictable — bidding started at $100 — the Basquiat was a relatively safe bet for Christie’s, which was hoping to draw new people to the market from Asia. (The winning bid came from Christie’s Hong Kong representative.) The company guaranteed the seller an undisclosed minimum price and got an irrevocable bid from a third-party backer, ensuring the work would sell.

“Basquiat is one of the strongest markets coming out of the pandemic,” said Christophe van de Weghe, a dealer who specializes in Basquiats. “It’s worldwide. You can sell Basquiat, like Picasso, to someone in India or Kazakhstan or Mexico. You can have a 28-year-old spending millions on Basquiat and you can have a guy who is 85. He appeals to all kinds of people, from rappers to hedge-fund guys.’’

Basquiat explored issues of race and inequality with graffiti-inspired style, rising to the pinnacle of the contemporary art world from modest beginnings in street art. He dated Madonna, collaborated with Warhol and became a legend after dying at age 27 in 1988.

“Warrior” depicts a figure with fiery eyes and a raised sword against patches of blue and yellow. It was painted on a six-foot-tall wooden panel with oilstick, acrylic and spray paint in 1982. It has come up for auction four times, including Tuesday’s sale. It last appeared Sotheby’s in 2012, fetching $8.7 million. At the time it was bought by the real estate mogul Aby Rosen.

Christie’s declined to confirm that Rosen was the seller of “Warrior,” but its provenance indicates that the current owner bought the work in 2012. Rosen offered the work for sale privately last year, according to a dealer with firsthand knowledge of the sale. Rosen didn’t return emails seeking comment.

Basquiat’s 1982 painting “Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump” was among the highest known transactions of 2020. Bought by the billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin for more than $100 million, it has been hanging at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Although Basquiat was very prolific, there’s a limited supply of work: about 900 paintings and 3,400 works on paper. By contrast, Beeple’s record-setting “Everydays — the First 5000 Days,” comprised the 5,000 works the artist created over 13 and a half years.

Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st century art, recently had a chance to realize the scope of Basquiat’s appeal while attending the Brooklyn Nets’s victorious game at the team’s arena on Feb. 25. Basquiat’s signature crown was on the court’s floor.

“I thought, ‘Wow! How cool is that!’” Rotter said this week, recalling the game when the Nets defeated the Orlando Magic. “Basquiat is everywhere.”

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Counting the Toll of the Pandemic, by the Numbers

GE Capital was supercharged under Jack Welch, who turned the financing unit into a lending colossus that helped power years of enviable earnings. But GE Capital nearly capsized its parent with its bets on risky home mortgages and its dependence on short-term funding that dried up after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

GE Capital isn’t quite gone yet. The division will still own an insurance business with $50 billion in assets and a small equipment-leasing operation. But following the close of the aircraft-leasing deal, G.E. will no longer report it as a separate operating unit, putting the focus on G.E.’s remaining manufacturing businesses.

Wall Street is of two minds about the move. Shares in G.E. fell 6 percent yesterday, while S&P downgraded the conglomerate’s credit rating one notch. But Moody’s said the transaction wouldn’t hurt G.E.’s creditworthiness, and some investors praised the deal: “It feels like a smart move strategically,” said Daniel Babkes of Pzena Investment Management.


Lauren Hobart took over as C.E.O. of Dick’s last month, becoming only the third leader in the retailer’s 70-plus-year history. Ms. Hobart took over from Ed Stack, the son of its founder, who is now executive chairman. DealBook caught up with Ms. Hobart in her first interview since taking the top job.

“The pandemic changed us radically and I think for the better,” Ms. Hobart said. The company had already moved its digital operations in-house, which allowed it to shift quickly as its stores were forced to close. “The team spun up curbside pickup for the first time in two days,” she said. “It was a project that would have taken 12 to 18 months before.” An uptick in demand for golf equipment and at-home fitness gear has bolstered the company’s earnings, with sales last year up 10 percent.

Women are a focus for the retailer, and a growing part of the sportswear business in general. Dick’s launched a campaign this week featuring women in sports — and in business. As part of the campaign, Dick’s is donating 100,000 sports bras to female athletes in need. Ms. Hobart and other women who serve as managers at the company are featured in the campaign.

Predicting the path ahead is difficult. “Forecasting for 2021, I think, for all business, is very challenging,” Ms. Hobart said. The company issued somewhat muted sales guidance to investors this week, but Ms. Hobart expects that some pandemic trends, like the rising interest in golf, will stick. “It’s so uncertain to know how the consumer is going to respond,” she said. “We’re just taking one day at a time.”


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