The art world is back in business

Art galleries and auction houses are tentatively looking to reopen their doors as the pandemic starts to subside.

The first stirrings are afoot in the art world as galleries and auction houses tentatively look to reopen their doors as the pandemic subsides, says Melanie Gerlis in the Financial Times.

Gagosian, the world’s biggest commercial art gallery, will start the process with a show of German artist Georg Baselitz’s work in Hong Kong on 21 May. Sotheby’s chief executive, Charles Stewart, said the auction house’s staff in Europe and Asia would begin to return to work, noting also that it had made a total of $70m from holding 37 online sales since March. However, Perth-based experienced the perils of doing so last month. Its online sale of 1,958 bottles of rare whisky had to be delayed due to a malicious cyberattack. The first phase of the auction, held earlier this year, had raised £3.2m.

Bonhams in London has used the quiet time to hold an online auction, raising £405,300 for the NHS. The “Blue Auction” ran for three weeks to 29 April. All 61 lots sold, many of which included items and pledges made by actors, musicians, artists and sports people. A tour of Grayson Perry’s studio fetched £22,000, while Antony Gormley’s artwork Fold I (2018) sold for £17,000. The Connor Brothers’ hand-finished giclée print of Extraordinary People (2020) was used to illustrate the sale. Featuring a glamorous-looking nurse (see picture above), it went for £18,000.

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© Alamy

(Image credit: © Alamy)

Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics to the song Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, which appeared on The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road, are to be sold next month with California-based Julien’s Auctions. The 20 lines, written on Apple Corps stationery, are expected to fetch $200,000 to $300,000.

The custom-made blue electric Cloud guitar owned by Prince (pictured, above), from 1984, minus the strings, is also appearing as part of the “Music Icons 2020” sale on 19 and 20 June. The guitar was featured in the 1984 film Purple Rain. It features the late singer’s love symbols on the neck and gold hardware, and comes with a Calzone purple guitar road case. It is expected to sell for up to $200,000.


Online bidding for Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for a song on his album Blonde on Blonde ended on Tuesday. The album is “regarded by many as his greatest”, says The Guardian. The typed page was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London and features alternate lyrics for the “breakup song” Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine. It had been given an estimated price of up to £15,000.

Dylan wrote the notes over a page that already had typed lyrics on it. He never recorded those typed lyrics, but they were later adapted for the song Temporary Like Achilles, which also features on the album. In 2014, Sotheby’s sold another page of Dylan’s lyrics, to his song Like A Rolling Stone, for $2m.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

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