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This week, the case for Sotheby’s to go public again, Judy Chicago x Kanye West, and another 30-year-old talent goes stratospheric in Asia.
Tim Schneider,
Every Friday, Artnet News Pro members get exclusive access to the Back Room, our lively recap funneling only the week’s must-know intel into a nimble read you’ll actually enjoy.
This week in the Back Room: the case for Sotheby’s to go public (again), Judy Chicago x Kanye West, another thirtysomething talent goes stratospheric in Asia, and much more—all in a 7-minute read (2,004 words).
Sotheby’s owner Patrick Drahi in 2016. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)
Happy new year, art pros! While many of us were stressing over COVID tests and last-minute gifts, Katya served up a bravura column on what is already shaping up to be one of the defining stories of 2022: the prospect that Sotheby’s, slimmed down and powered up by moves made under owner Patrick “Cost Killer” Drahicould go public again soon.
To refresh, Drahi acquired Sotheby’s in 2019 for $3.7 billion, a price widely considered rich at the time. Two Decembers later, the house announced that it racked up an all-time-high $7.3 billion in auction and private sales in 2021… and Bloomberg News reported the same day that Drahi was exploring relisting the house on a public stock exchange.
A Sotheby’s spokesperson said the company doesn’t “comment on rumors or speculation,” and employees were told not to worry about the story. Still, as Katya detailed, there are plenty of reasons the move would make sense.
All told, Deloitte analysts projected year-over-year cost savings “in excess of $100 million” during the first year of the Drahi regime. He pursued that goal by…
Combined with the onset of the pandemic, Drahi’s decision to take Sotheby’s private has allowed him to aggressively slash costs, restructure, and reprioritize without having to please Wall Street. The house’s record results and the broader financial climate now position him to reap outsize rewards.
Only Drahi knows how much of an IPO windfall he would funnel back into Sotheby’s versus his other assets. But he’s too shrewd a businessman to believe this golden opportunity will last forever.
Kanye West. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
In the latest Wet Paint, we learned that all-time-great Judy Chicago was hired as a creative consultant to Kanye West for his recent benefit concert for Larry Hoover, the long-imprisoned (and long-repentant) former leader of the (city of) Chicago-based gang the Gangster Disciples. As part of her advisory contributions, Chicago (the artist) designed a new cloudscape piece for the rappers’ 90 minute-set, which was streamed on Amazon and Twitch.
Here’s what else made a mark around the industry since the last Back Room of 2021…
Art Fairs

Auction Houses



NFTs and More

© 2022 Artnet Price Database and Artnet Analytics.
Through November, the hottest artist by value at auction in 2021 was once again Pablo Picasso, who amassed nearly $658 million in gavel-driven sales worldwide.
The silver and bronze medalists were born much closer to the present day: Jean-Michel Basquiat ran up $414 million in sales, while his occasional collaborator Andy Warhol raked in $342 million.
But the top-selling quintet varied dramatically in terms of the number of works traded: Picasso’s total came from 2,622 sold lots, and Warhol’s from 1,107. Basquiat sold 80 works, while fourth-place Claude Monet ($305 million) and fifth-place Vincent van Gogh ($235 million) sold just 23 works and 12 works, respectively.
“I been hacked.
All my apes gone.
This just sold
please help me”
Todd Kramer, cofounder of Ross + Kramer gallery, alerting the world in a since-deleted tweet that 15 NFTs (including multiple entries in the Bored Ape Yacht Club series) worth an estimated $2.2 million had been stolen from his crypto wallet and resold just before New Year’s Eve. OpenSea soon froze the fraudulent transactions. (Artnet News)

Roby Dwi Antono, Goddess Pramani (2015). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022.
Estimate:             $5,000 to $7,000
Sale Price:           $150,000
Sold at:                Christie’s “First Open,” December 15
There are many reasons that the most recent edition of Christie’s “First Open: Postwar and Contemporary Art” online sale achieved $6 million, the highest total in the history of the offering. But an unexpected propellant was this painting by Roby Dwi Antono, a not-quite 31-year-old artist based in Indonesia. A bidding war launched Goddess Pramani (2021) more than 21 times above its high estimate to $150,000 (including fees).
Christie’s specialist Michael Baptist attributed the quantum leap to “the technical skill, as well as the surreal imagery, of this particular painting.” But it’s fair to say that bidders saw even more than prowess in the piece, which the seller acquired just four years earlier from Srisasanti Syndicate gallery in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta.
To date, 18 works by Dwi Antono have appeared at auction per the Artnet Price Database. His record stands at just under $307,000, for Muram Temeram (2013), a painting nearly triple the size of Goddess Pramani that soared to almost 10 times its high estimate at a November 2021 joint sale in Hong Kong from Phillips and Poly Auction. Another work reached $108,000 at Taiwanese house Ravenel last month.
Yet every other Dwi Antono lot sold so far has gone for less than $14,000. Regardless of the reasons, it’s time to start bringing those estimates up…
Additional reporting and writing by Naomi Rea. 

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