Now Read This No. 5: Impossible Collection of Watches

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THE IMPOSSIBLE COLLECTION OF WATCHES is the latest book from one of our favorite publishers, Assouline, and author Nick Foulkes, MoS’s own Girard-Perregaux 223 Years of History columnist. Mr. Foulkes is also the cofounder of Finch’s Quarterly Review, luxury editor of British GQ and contributing editor to both the Financial Times and U.K. Vanity Fair. 

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Blue Chip Chinese Contemporary Art Market

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AS ART PRICES return to pre-recession levels, contemporary works by both Western and Chinese artists have seen record sales. Despite stellar auction results, however, a huge price gap remains: Last November, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud became the priciest piece of art ever sold at auction, at $142.4 million, while Zeng Fanzhi’s The Last Supper holds the contemporary Chinese record at a modest-by-comparison $23.3 million. Prices for other top Chinese artists, such as Zao Wou-Ki, Zhang Xiaogang and Chu Teh-Chun, lag those of their Western peers as well.

That discrepancy might not be so vast for long, though. As the record-setting Christie’s New York auctions this May indicated, a growing number of wealthy Chinese collectors is a major factor in sky-high Western prices — and the art of their countrymen is not far behind on their wish list.

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Fang Lijun’s set of six woodblock prints entitled 1999.3.1

Christie’s May 13 auction of postwar and contemporary art netted $745 million — the highest-ever total for a single art auction — thanks in large part to Chinese buyers. The New York Times reported that half of the evening’s top 10 pieces were snapped up by Asian buyers who placed phone bids with Xin Li, deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia.

Overall, avid Chinese collectors have engaged — and frequently conquered — key global art-world figures in fierce bidding wars. Top lots picked up by mainland Chinese include Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards ($80.8 million), Jeff Koons’s Jim Bean—J.B. Turner Train ($33.7 million) and Alexander Calder’s Flying Fish ($25.9 million). This past spring, a Chinese telephone buyer landed Monet’s Water Lilies for $27 million at another Christie’s New York auction, while billionaire Wang Jianlin paid $28 million for a Picasso painting last November.

Meanwhile, a larger contingent of blue-chip contemporary Western artists such as Koons, Chris Wool, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Joan Mitchell often sell for prices that in Asian auctions are reached by only the top one or two pieces. The top 10 lots of Christie’s May auction ranged from $4 million to $18 million, with sales of mid-range works by Koons, Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Peter Doig and Martin Kippenberger among the highlights. By contrast, no contemporary Chinese work has sold for more than $25 million, while Koons, Wool and Jasper Johns — the most expensive living American artists — have seen record sales of $58.4 million, $28.6 million and $26.5 million, respectively. Likewise, many pieces by young Westerners who have never had a museum show have sold for prices far higher than those of established Chinese artists.

Chinese art is unlikely to remain so (relatively) inexpensive for long, however. For now, Chinese contemporary is a bargain compared to Western work, but that will change as more Chinese collectors emerge. Recent record sales such as Zeng’s Last Supper were influenced by the fact that collectors are holding on to the most important Chinese art with an eye on new collectors and the market’s potential.

Anyone looking for the next big art-investment opportunity should therefore regard contemporary Chinese work as a solid bet. Christie’s demonstrated that in May, and it’s not the last time it’ll happen. That makes now the time to buy for savvy bidders.

[Art + Article Re-Posted from Jingdaily.]

[Opening Art: Zeng Fanzhi’s Mask Series 1997 No. 17]

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Haute Wheels

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ABOUT THREE HOURS outside Los Angeles — in Thermal, California, which is just outside La Quinta, which is just outside Palm Springs — you’ll find The Thermal Club, one of the world’s first master-planned community based around a private race track. Well, three, actually.

There are scads of golf communities around the world. There are vineyard and winery communities and gate-guarded beach-resort communities. There’s even Celebration, the Disney master-planned ersatz community near Orlando. But there has never been a place to hang your hat and then race your Ferrari — until now. The catch: You can’t spend the night, but your sports cars, supercars and motorcycles can. Welcome to this luxury-motorsports oasis in the heart of the Coachella Valley.

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GP Cigars No. 5: Davidoff Limited Art Edition

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THE CIGAR WORLD abounds with limited editions (edición limitadas), so much so that it’s often difficult to distinguish between what’s simply a marketing scheme and what’s truly worthy of consideration. The Davidoff Limited Art Edition, however, is decidedly the latter.

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E. Matter by Elvis Mitchell No. 3: TV Time

 

elvis+mitchellTHE RETURN OF the . . . well, action-melodrama series 24 is a welcome reminder to me of how poorly ongoing television handles time. With rare exceptions (Iron Chef and the late and under-seen Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom Watching Ellie, a single-camera show with a running clock at the edge of the screen), cognizance of time is an unknown concept for most TV shows — like entertainment value or originality.

I’ve always suspected that 24 was the catalyst for Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video installation, The Clock (below), in which the artist edited together thousands of pieces of film from movies and TV shows in which a clock is shown, each passing minute reflected in a timepiece onscreen, with events happening in real time, as Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer reminds us at the beginning of each season of 24.

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Digital Gizmos No. 12: Buster + Punch Light Switches

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MOST OF US have likely never given the humble light switch much thought. You flip them on, you flop them off. Since the days of Edison, it’s been as utilitarian as a daily device gets—but no longer. Meet Buster + Punch switches and dimmers.

The Serious Chronos Watch Safe

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ONE OF THE last questions we ask of each participant in the Mechanics of Style Collector Q&A is “are you a casual watch enthusiast or a serious collector?” Well, are you, punk? Both the casual and the serious appreciate exceptional timepieces, but the distinction between them is real — and in the case of the latter that appreciation often borders on the obsessive.

Raleigh Denim

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Employing time-tested techniques to contemporary cuts, Raleigh Denim has a personal stake in supplying a great pair of jeans, restoring vintage machinery from the early 20th century to get as close to handmade as possible, or in their words “non-automated”. The husband and wife team began in 2007 as more of a project. I sat with Victor Lytvinenko at booth 308 under The Tents at the PROJECT menswear trade show.

Collectors GPQ&A No.32: Jonathan Ward

JONATHAN WARD
Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon Biaxial Tantalum and Sapphire

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We find that notable people often share some of their most memorable characteristics, from the trivial to the profound — and those things that are unique to them are equally revealing. To scratch the surface, we present the GPQ+A. —The Editors