irst, it was the Hamptons, then Palm Beach and Aspen. Now, the latest fast-growing art hot-spot is the Principality of Monaco, with its billionaire residents who are nearly a third of the population. After gained a reputation primarily as a tax haven, Monaco has become a serious cultural hub. Several high-profile galleries, dealers, and auction houses are setting up shops and events in the tiny State to take advantage of the concentrated population of wealthy buyers looking for art and luxury goods. As the pandemic caused the restriction of international travels and large-scale events, for the high-end market, more transactions are going on behind the scenes. Thus, mega-galleries and leading auction houses placed a new emphasis on private transactions, bringing art to exclusive corners of the world frequented by serious buyers. This strategy enabled clients to buy and sell year-round, beyond the traditional auction calendar.
According to its 2021 annual sales report, Sotheby’s generated $1.6 billion from private sales in 2020, marking a 50% increase over its 2019 figure. Likewise, Christie’s reported a total of $1.2 billion in private sales for the year 2020, a 56% increase over 2019.
This summer, auction houses operated the same strategy in Monaco, which is promised to be very rich in art events until the end of the year.
Mega-gallery Hauser and Wirth chose the prestigious location in Monte-Carlo near the legendary Hôtel de Paris for its new place opened on June 19th. The new gallery, inaugurated with a solo show of work by Louise Bourgeois, entitled “Maladie de l’Amour,” will run until September 25th.
Meanwhile, German dealer Johann König opened a showroom in Monaco’s Villa Nuvola from June 18th to November 27th.
Christie’s has organized a selling exhibition of Impressionist, Modern, Postwar and Contemporary works alongside jewelry, on view 3rd–18th July in a dedicated room at the illustrious Cipriani Monte-Carlo, offering a combined experience of luxury, art, and fine dining.
The showcase features pieces by artists such as Picasso and Banksy, as well as precious jewels, including a turquoise, emerald, and diamond Serpenti bracelet-watch by Bulgari. A pair of natural pearl-diamond tassel earrings by Bhagat, together with a set of earrings/necklace colored-sapphire, emerald, and diamond by Bulgari, will also be up for grabs.
Sotheby’s has maintained a presence in Monaco for more than half a century, with its Monte-Carlo office, a reference point for collectors in the principality and the Alpes-Maritimes. It opened its first office in Monaco in 1967 and was the first international auction house to hold a sale in the principality, an auction of the collection of Redé-Rothschild in 1975.
After announcing plans to open new sales headquarters in Cologne, Sotheby’s has made another move to reach clients in Europe. The auction house has opened a new private sales gallery in Monaco from July 3rd until October. The office is situated on Avenue de la Costa in the heart of the Carré d’Or, and it is the house’s first pop-up space in Europe. It will feature a constantly rotating selection of modern and contemporary works of art across two floors.
The first show features a selection of works by artists including Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia, Georges Braque, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Emil Nolde, and Cy Twombly, blended with Italian pieces by Lucio Fontana, Alighiero Boetti, and Alberto Burri.
All art pieces are presented alongside design and luxury items, including watches, handbags, sneakers, and one-of-a-kind creations by British jeweler Glenn Spiro.
Furthermore, Sotheby’s will hold an auction of furniture, design, and fine art from the Karl Lagerfeld collection in Monaco later this year.
“Pop-up galleries have become an important and really popular component of our approach,” said Martin Klosterfelde, senior director and specialist of European private sales at Sotheby’s.
“Monaco is increasingly becoming a mecca for the world’s leading collectors and gallerists, with a culture steeped in the wonderful history of the many great artists of the 20th century who made the Côte d’Azur their home,” said Michael Gumener, senior director of international private sales at Sotheby’s.
Indeed, in the next few weeks, the Principality of Monaco will also become the site of Alberto Giacometti’s retrospective exhibition “A Marvellous Reality” at the Grimaldi Forum from July 3rd to August 29th, accompanied by workshops involving children aged from 7 to 11 years old.
The same place will host the Art Monte-Carlo fair from July 15th to 17th, with 25 international galleries participating, including White Cube, Esther Schipper, and Kamel Mennour. Then, the International Contemporary Art fair will arrive in Monaco on August 27th-29th and will be held in the Fontvieille district.