Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work will make headlines again during the marquee spring auctions in New York as a second major painting by the late artist comes to market.
Now’s the Time, 1985, Basquiat’s ode to jazz and saxophonist Charlie Parker, will be offered Thursday, May 18, at Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale on behalf of the businessman and collector Peter Brant. The 7-foot diameter painting is expected to realise more than US$30 million and is being sold without a third-party guarantee.
On Wednesday, Christie’s announced it would sell Basquiat’s triptych, El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile), 1983, for an estimate in the range of US$45 million, at its 21st Century evening sale on Monday, May 15 .
Brant, who held a 70-work Basquiat exhibition at his foundation’s Manhattan gallery space in 2019, has owned Now’s the Time for “several decades,” Sotheby’s said in a news release, noting that this is the first time the sparely wrought piece is being brought to auction. The work pictures a simply rendered vinyl record painted in matte black on rough plywood with the words “Now’s the Time” PRKR in white lettering.
According to Sotheby’s, the painting “encapsulates the importance of music on his technique and style as a painter.” The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts featured the work on a catalog of a multidisciplinary exhibition held at the institution last year that explored Basquiat’s connection to music. The show was organised in collaboration with the Musée de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris.
“His oeuvre is replete with depictions of musical instruments alongside references to opera, classical music, jazz, bebop, hip-hop, and rap,” the museum said of Basquiat in a synopsis of the 100-work exhibition titled “Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music.”
Now’s the Time is a reference to Parker’s jazz composition from 1945, and “is the ultimate expression of Basquiat’s passion for music and the way it fundamentally impacted his practice,” Sotheby’s said. It also immortalizes Parker, an idol of the artist, whose revolutionary style “represented the spirit of freedom and improvisation” that defined Basquiat.
The painting will be exhibited at the auction house’s Los Angeles galleries Thursday through Monday, April 24, before it comes to New York on May 6, ahead of the sale.
Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual
China’s economic recovery isn’t gaining the momentum money managers are awaiting.
Data from China Beige Book show that the economic green shoots glimpsed in August didn’t sprout further in September. Job growth and consumer spending faltered, while orders for exports came in at the lowest level since March, according to a monthly flash survey of more than 1,300 companies the independent research firm released Thursday evening.
Consumers’ initial revenge spending after Covid restrictions eased could be waning, the results indicate, with the biggest pullbacks in food and luxury items. While travel remains a bright spot ahead of the country’s Mid-Autumn Festival, hospitality firms and chain restaurants saw a sharp decline in sales, according to the survey.
And although policy makers have shown their willingness to stabilise the property market, the data showed another month of slower sales and lower prices in both the residential and commercial sectors.
Even more troubling are the continued problems at Evergrande Group, which has scuttled a plan to restructure itself, raising the risk of a liquidation that could further destabilise the property market and hit confidence about the economy. The embattled developer said it was notified that the company’s chairman Hui Ka Yan, who is under police watch, is suspected of committing criminal offences.
Nicole Kornitzer, who manages the $750 million Buffalo International Fund (ticker: BUIIX), worries about a “recession of expectations” as confidence continues to take a hit, discouraging people and businesses from spending. Kornitzer has only a fraction of the fund’s assets in China at the moment.
Before allocating more to China, Kornitzer said, she needs to see at least a couple quarters of improvement in spending, with consumption broadening beyond travel and dining out. Signs of stabilisation in the housing market would be encouraging as well, she said.
She isn’t alone in her concern about spending. Vivian Lin Thurston, manager for William Blair’s emerging markets and China strategies, said confidence among both consumers and small- and medium-enterprises is still suffering.
“Everyone is still out and about but they don’t buy as much or buy lower-priced goods so retail sales aren’t recovering as strongly and lower-income consumers are still under pressure because their employment and income aren’t back to pre-COVID levels,” said Thurston, who just returned from a visit to China.
“A lot of small- and medium- enterprises are struggling to stay afloat and are definitely taking a wait-and-see approach on whether they can expand. A lot went out of business during Covid and aren’t back yet. So far the stimulus measures have been anemic.”
Beijing needs to do more, especially to stabilise the property sector, Thurston said. The view on the ground is that more help could come in the fourth quarter—or once the Federal Reserve is done raising rates.
The fact that the Fed is raising rates while Beijing is cutting them is already putting pressure on the renminbi. If policy makers in China wait until the Fed is done, that would alleviate one source of pressure before their fiscal stimulus adds its own.