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Sotheby’s contemporary sale calms art market fears

29 June 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Records set for Jenny Saville and Keith Haring at Sotheby’s contemporary sale | As the pound rallied slightly on Tuesday following post-Brexit market turmoil, so did confidence in the art market. Sotheby’s contemporary sale in London brought in £52.2 million (with fees), slightly above its pre-sale high estimate of £50 million, with a sell-through rate of 87 per cent. Records were set for works by Keith Haring and Jenny Saville, whose painting Shift sold to Liu Yiqian’s Long Museum for £6.8 million. Though the results may be reassuring for those expecting the worst, it is worth noting that the total value represents a 60 per cent drop from the £130.4 million reaped by a comparable (albeit slightly larger) sale last year. ‘London is still a very vibrant hub of the art market,’ said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe. ‘The passion for art collecting overrides the broader concerns of the economy.’

Hartwig Fischer reveals ambitious plans for BM reading room | British Museum director Hartwig Fischer is planning a ‘radical transformation’ of the institution’s hallowed Reading Room, says the Times. Speaking at a members’ lecture, Fischer suggested that the space could be transformed into a permanent exhibition space as part of his plans to bring large parts of the museum’s collections out of storage. However, he also recognised that any plan to change the room, which is protected by Historic England, might face opposition, and clarified that no shake-up was imminent. ‘For the time being, I can’t tell you when this will be realised,’ he said.

Kier Group to repair Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building | Construction firm Kier Group has been awarded the contract to repair Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building, which was gutted by fire two years ago. The £25 million contract to restore Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece will see the building’s roof replaced in its entirety. Work is set to begin in spring 2017, with an estimated completion date of February 2019.

Soviet memorials in Poland to be moved to a museum | More than 200 memorials to the Soviet army in Poland are to be dismantled and moved to an open-air museum, reports the BBC. The controversial monuments, which many Poles see as symbols of Communist oppression, may be moved to a park north of Warsaw, where they will be used for the purpose of teaching history. However, the move is likely to anger Russia, which argues that Poland is duty bound to conserve the monuments to the Soviet fallen by a 1994 bilateral agreement.

Ray Entwistle appointed chairman of Bonhams Scotland | Bonhams has announced that banker Ray Entwistle is to replace Simon Miller as chairman of its Scottish operation, effective as of 1 July. ‘Ray has a longstanding interest in the arts and his reputation in the business and financial world will bring a great deal to our team,’ said Bonhams Scotland managing director Miranda Leslie.

Ben Patterson (1934–2016) | Artist and composer Ben Patterson has died at the age of 82. Born in Pittsburgh in 1934, Patterson graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in music. Along with the likes of Yoko Ono and John Cage, Patterson was one of the founding members of the Fluxus group, the New York-based movement that revolutionised avant-garde performance in the early 1960s.