Three billionaire art collectors sold trophy works at Christie’s and Phillips auction houses last week, but the sell-off doesn’t mean the market has peaked.
“I don’t see it as a top,” Kenny Ackerman of Ackerman’s Fine Art told The Post. “It’s just a good time to be flipping things around.”
The market is certainly healthy. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled” sold for a record $110.5 million at Sotheby’s Thursday.
But hedge funders selling their art aren’t desperate to unload, sources said. Steven A. Cohen likely auctioned off his “La Hara” by Basquiat for practical reasons, said fellow hedgie Ackerman, a former trader who locates investment-quality pieces for collectors.
“The guy’s worth $12 billion and sells a painting for $35 million — that’s not even the tip of the iceberg,” Ackerman said. “He might have bought two Basquiats a month ago and doesn’t have room for all three on his wall.”
Cohen offered the painting anonymously, as did the other billionaires, but was outed by those familiar with his $1 billion collection.
His sale of “La Hara” for $35 million easily cleared the estimated range of $22 million to $28 million.
Francois Pinault, who auctioned off Rudolf Stingel’s “Untitled (After Sam),” was even less motivated to sell than Cohen. The French businessman, worth over $20 billion, sold the piece through his own auction house, Christie’s. It fetched $10.6 million, barely above its low-end estimate of $10 million.
Leon Black of Apollo Global Management did better with his sale of Wassily Kandinsky’s “Oben und links.” The work commanded $8.3 million — well outside of its top estimate of $7 million, but a mere rounding error for the private-equity titan who’s worth $5.2 billion.
If Black is ever forced to sell his “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, that would be a cry for help. Black paid $120 million for the iconic artwork in 2012 — a record price, at the time, for an auctioned…