Morning Links

Morning Links: Billy the Kid Edition

An enhanced version of a photograph of Billy the Kid by Ben Wittick.


Market Action

The evening sales wrapped up last night in New York, as Sotheby’s sold $310.2 million worth of art at a solid though uneventful postwar and contemporary sale. The top lot was a $36.8 million Francis Bacon. Covering the auction for ARTnews, Nate Freeman noted that that result was comparable to the haul at Christie’s sale the night before, assuming you set aside the record-breaking $450.3 million Leonardo. [ARTnews]

And Phillips put in a solid effort of its own, moving $113.9 million over the course of a little more than an hour at its 20th-century and contemporary art sale. A 1956 Carmen Herrera painting set a new record for the 102-year-old artist at auction. “I think the art market is in pretty good, robust health,” the house’s CEO, Edward Dolman, told reporters, including ARTnews, after the sale. [ARTnews]

The Law

A North Carolina lawyer picked up a 19th-century tintype photograph of a number of serious-looking men for $10 at a flea market. It turns out that it could be worth millions. The New York Times reports that it may depict Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, the sheriff who would later kill him. [The New York Times]

The Museum of the Bible opens in Washington., D.C., today. Its leadership has stressed that it “will embrace many faith traditions that embrace the Bible as their own,” according to the Art Newspaper. One scholar involved with the institution said, “Our purpose is to trick people into reading the Bible for the same reasons that they read Shakespeare—that it will be good for them.” [The Art Newspaper]


Jonathan Jones has taken it upon himself to rank all of the world’s Leonardos in the Guardian. “Her secretive smile seduces for ever,” Jones of the Mona Lisa. [The Guardian]

The consensus is that Christie’s did a superb job marketing the record-destroying Salvator Mundi and stage-managing the theater of its sale. “They did a magnificent job,” dealer Paul Gray told the New York Times. “It was clear they had rehearsed it. Jussi [Pylkkanen, the auctioneer] is as close to perfect as they get.” [The New York Times]

The Gray Lady even has an editorial cartoon about the marketing efforts by the auction house. Have a look! [The New York Times]

In the Berkshires

A member of the Berkshire Museum’s Collections Committee has resigned. He told the Berkshire Eagle that museum leaders did not tell him in advance of a committee meeting that he was unable to attend that they were planning to vote on a controversial deaccessioning that aims to sell 40 works to raise more than $50 million for the institution. That sale is currently tied up in court. [The Berkshire Eagle]

Economics professor Tyler Cowen has penned a column for Bloomberg arguing that, for a variety of reasons, the Berkshire Museum should be allowed to go ahead with its sale. One unconventional and very hot take: “The sad truth is that the people running the Berkshire Museum just don’t care that much about American art any more, at least not from an institutional point of view. Given that reality, it’s actually better if they are not entrusted with important artworks.” [Bloomberg View]

Living History

Anna Sansom reports in the Art Newspaper: “The Paris city council plans to open an archive center in 2020 that will preserve documentation of the LGBT movement in France from the 1960s onwards.” [The Art Newspaper]

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