We just completed a very successful 2013, thanks to the extraordinary sales of China, which alone realized nearly half of the total turnover of the Auction House, and the outstanding results of Jewels and Design, which nearly doubled the sales of the previous year.
But looking closer to last year, we can say that even ancient art is showing signs of recovery.
Apart from the good results obtained by the department of Old Masters Paintings, I look with joy at the catalogues of four small monographic sales of 2013 concerning ceramics, frames, drawings and statues of the Neapolitan crib. These were not resounding auctions, but sales managed with elegance, that sold more than 100% and satisfied both buyers and sellers.
For me, an encouraging sign; in fact, we can say that the ancient art market in Italy is still alive, maybe a little dozing, without the former enthusiasm, but ready to awaken in front of appropriate proposals.
The most important event of 2013 was, with no doubt, the opening of the new headquarters in Palazzo Serbelloni. The opening night was a memorable day for us; more than a thousand people filled the spacious rooms of the Napoleonic floor put at our disposal by the Serbelloni Foundation. People were queuing in Corso Venezia, taxis came repeatedly, the evening was elegant and fun, with jazz music and catering by Papillon.
After a few days, the auctions organized in an amazing room, a room that, from now on, will host our best sales, as well as contemporary art and jewels auctions. Currently we are the only Italian auction house to organize sales in two different cities.
The new year welcomes us immediately with a sale of great prestige: the auction of the furnishing of Guido Bartolozzi’s gallery in Florence, managed for four generations by the family since 1877, when the founder Guido opened in Via Maggio those places that still today, albeit briefly, represent them. Massimo Bartolozzi, having understood the recent and deep changes in taste and market, has decided to make a more accurate selection of his proposal, working no longer as a gallery but only by appointment in his studio.
The semester will be also characterized by the usual appointments with Fine Art and Old Masters Paintings, the 20th Century and the Design, the 19th and 20th-century Paintings as well as Modern and Contemporary Art, China, and Jewels.
As usual, this issue hosts many contributions. Therefore, with great pleasure, we present an exhaustive work by Carlo Raffo on the Ligurian majolica, while Stefano Meriana shows us a small hidden treasure of Genoa: the theatre of Villa Galliera in Voltri, the only surviving example in Liguria of an 18th-century theatre in a villa, a cultural prerogative of the large European families. Michela Scotti was our correspondent at Dokumenta, a five-year review of contemporary art among the most important in the world, and Chiara Orlando speaks about Archaeometry and diagnostics for cultural heritage. Monica Salvestrini is the author of a fine essay on Deco jewels, while Susanne Capolongo presents an interesting insight on the artistic personality of the sculptor Agenore Fabbri, an artist we greatly appreciate and who honoured us of his presence on several auctions. Finally, a focus on Gabriella Crespi and her work as a designer since the 1950s.
The web communication of the Auction House is still cutting edge, with the updated applications for iPad and iPhone, which are a perennial hit among our clients for their ease of use and convenience. Especially the iPad app gives the chance to save all the magazines and the auction catalogues that can be consulted easily even in remote; this particular functionality is very much appreciated.
The website became a crucial tool for all our clients and, according to Alexa data, it is the most visited among those of all our competitors. With its 560,000 accesses in 2013 it reported an increase of contacts by 40% over the previous year.