Manager Update - Q4 2019


Installation image at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Rina Banerjee, With breathtaking consumption her commerce ate while she was being eaten, 2008

Dear Readers, 

The last quarter of 2019 capped an exceptional year for equity markets, driven by the US which was up some 30% in 2019. China equities increased only 9% during the year, whereas Japan was up 18% and Europe (ex-UK) was up some 25%. The major South American markets rallied strongly with Brazil up 32% and Argentina 38%, whilst Asian markets underperformed.

In parallel, the global art auction market took a big hit in 2019 with combined auction turnover for Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips coming in at $9.74 billion, down almost 20% from 2018. Sotheby’s experienced a year-on-year fall of 18.4%, Christie’s was down 22.2%, whilst Phillips declined 9.1% only.

In a more qualitative analysis of the art market, in his recent ArtTactic Podcast, Mark Rappolt said about the choice of Glen Lowry, Director of MoMA, to the #1 position of Art Review’s 2019 Power 100 list, that he was chosen despite being “a white man of a certain age from a traditional capital of art”, because of “MoMA’s relaunch which explores the idea of multiple or alternative art histories, and represents different ethnicities within the story of art”. New entrants to the Power 100 list that Rappolt discusses are mostly of African descent. Rappolt concludes that decolonization and power shifts to historically overseen centers are the underlying thread of what is currently happening in the art world. A similar feel emerges from reviewing ARTnews’ report on the shapers of the 2020s art scene: “The Deciders”.

Art Vantage realized a few more works from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection in the fourth quarter bringing our totals for 2019 to 50 sold works for USD 2.4 Million, an average return of 57.56% and a Gross IRR of 7.88%. Since inception, we sold 116 works for USD 9.75 Million with an average return of 51% and a Gross IRR of 14.30%. Full details can be found in “UNMASKED #3”.

Of the 116 works sold, 17 represented new auction records. We have also started selling works at deep losses when we do not foresee an increase in demand/value over the next 2-3 years, in order to save on storage costs and other expenses, particularly for artists whose career has stalled. For 2020 we intend to continue deaccessioning works via a combination of auctions, dealer networks, and via direct Museum outreach. Following our successful sales in the Philippines in 2019, we will be looking at forging new auction partnerships to extend our sales channels to more targeted local audiences. The Year-end valuation of the collection was completed in March 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak. This resulted in the book value of the 396 works in the collection declining to $12.9 million, down 3.4% relative to their value in 2018. So far we have consigned 16 works to various auctions in H1 2020, some via new partnerships.

Installation view of Contemporary African Art Preview, January 22 - 28, 2020, Lempertz Brussels

Friends of the Petach Tikva Museum hosted at the Gallery for African Studies for a talk with Serge Tiroche and guided tour of the exhibition "Beats of Beads" with Africa First Residency artist Cyrus Kabiru

I gave 2 talks this quarter at the Gallery for African Studies in Israel to collector groups who came to see the exhibition of Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru who was on the Africa First residency in Israel earlier in 2019. We also hosted Mongezi Ncaphayi – winner of the Africa First Residency Prize at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair – in the fall and had a 1-day exhibition of his works in my home in Jaffa before he returned to Cape Town with the works, for them to be exhibited again at the VIP Lounge of Investec Cape Town Art Fair next month.

Serge Tiroche with Mongezi Ncphayi at the 1-day preview of artworks by Mongezi Ncaphayi created on the Africa First Artist Residency supported by the Investec Cape Town Art Fair Africa First Art Prize 

Our Rina Banerjee continues its tour, currently at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles until May 31st. The 8-year loan of Shilpa Gupta’s sound cloud ends this month at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, a moment where Shilpa’s microphone sound works are very much sought after following her Venice Biennale installation “For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit” comprised of 100 speakers, 100 microphones and 100 sheets of poetry by 100 carefully selected poets. We dedicate our spotlight this quarter to Gupta, whose career we have followed closely since acquiring 4 of her most iconic works in 2011/2012.


Detail, Rina Banerjee, With breathtaking consumption her commerce ate while she was being eaten, 2008

I am pleased to announce a new website which consolidates all my activities in one place. From there you will be able to access the Tiroche DeLeon website as well as those for the START incubator project and the Africa First platform. All sites will continue to work independently as well. We hope you continue to follow our growing activities. Going forward, our newsletters will go out semi-annually, you can subscribe to these independently on the websites and follow it all on my consolidated Instagram account @sergetiroche.  As always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and thoughts.

Very best wishes for the decade ahead. May the art continue to guide us towards a better future.

Serge Tiroche