Gregg Shienbaum has advised both private and corporate art collectors for more than twenty years.
Investing in Blue-Chip Prints and Multiples
A Conversation with Gregg Shienbaum
Born in Philadelphia, Pa., to parents who have always collected 19th- and early 20th-century art and antiques, Gregg Shienbaum started 20 years ago to buy and sell art. His gallery, Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, located in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, features works of art in various media, with a special emphasis on contemporary prints and multiples. Its inventory includes such important masters as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Wesselmann, Johns, Rauschenberg, Close, Dine and Indiana, among other artists. The gallery advises both individual and corporate collectors in the building and management of their art collections. Last summer, Shienbaum participated at a panel discussion about art as investment coordinated by the magazine ARTPULSE, in which he talked about the market of blue-chip prints and multiples. The idea of this interview was born from that interesting presentation. By José López-Niggemann
José López-Niggemann - For over 20 years as an art dealer and gallerist you have focused your business on fine-art limited editions. What motivated you to make this decision? Gregg Shienbaum - When I first started in the art business, over 20 years, ago, I did not only sell limited-edition prints. In fact, I did not sell prints at all. My father was in the jewelry and antiques business, and I guess I inherited his eye and appreciation for art at an early age. Living in Miami, and being that my father was Cuban, I started buying and selling Cuban 34 ARTDISTRICTS l www.artdistricts.com
art. Learning from my father, who always bought and sold the best or top quality works, I started buying and selling artworks by the biggest names in Cuban art, works by René Portocarrero, Víctor Manuel, Cundo Bermúdez, Amelia Peláez and Wifredo Lam. Living in Miami, and being that my father was Cuban, it seemed natural for me. However, as time passed, works by these artists were coming into Miami from Cuba, and even being made here in Miami, that were questionable as to their authenticity. I stopped selling Cuban art for fear of accidentally selling something that might be questionable. Not knowing what to do next, I picked up a Christie’s auction catalog of post-war and contemporary prints and multiples. On the cover was a print by Wayne Thiebaud. After flipping through this catalog, I knew that this was the artwork that I wanted to sell. I related to the art. The subject matter was more my speed, for a person my age. Prints and multiples made sense to me because I could not afford unique original paintings by these artists. For example, 20 years ago I sold a Warhol screen print of the Sea Turtle for $1,200. At that time, I believe my cost was $750 or $900, and after I sold it, I could pick up the phone and get another one. I knew that I could make a business out of limited-edition prints and multiples. As time went on, the art world blew up, and art was viewed as an asset and an investment. Prices of unique works skyrocketed and prints and multiples became more and more accepted as a viable medium in the art world. Not only
have prices of the unique works risen, but that same Warhol screen print of the Sea Turtle, for example, today sells in galleries between $25,000 and $30,000. Prints and multiples of this caliber have now also become viewed as an investment. But in a world where art has become a rich person’s game, prints and multiples are still somewhat affordable. More people can afford to collect, and partake in their passion, of collecting and owning an artwork by some of the world’s most important and most influential artist in the history of art because of prints and multiples. J.L.N. - Are you a collector yourself? What do you collect? Do you have pieces in your collection that you wouldn’t sell? What are they? G.S. - I, myself, am a ‘crazy collector.’ I have been bitten by the art collecting bug! Being in the art business and being a collector can be very rewarding at times and very dangerous at other times. As a businessman, I need to be able to separate myself from my collecting and from my business. However, there are many times that I get in an artwork that does not even make it into the gallery. Fortunately and unfortunately, it happens too often. Just in the last two months I have added a rare Frank Stella Race Track, Two Flags by Jasper Johns, an amazing example from the Stoned Moon series by Rauschenberg and the American Dream 5 by Robert Indiana to my personal collection. And although I know I can sell them with relative ease, I can not help myself. They have moved into my house. My rule is that once it goes into the house, it does not leave the house! Those pieces will not be for sale. And I have had many clients who have made me some very tempting offers, but to no avail. So you see it can be quite problematic. But that should be my biggest problem. J.L.N. - What trends have you seen in the fine-art, limited-edition market? Can you give us some examples of works that have appreciated considerably in a short period of time? Why do you think this happened? G.S. - Over the last 20 or so years, I have become an “art geek”. Not only have I become a student of the arts and
Josef Albers, White Line Square, XI, 1966, lithograph, 20 ¾” x 20 ¾”, edition of 125 pencil signed and numbered purchased in 2012 for $1,700 estimated in 2016 $7,000-$9,000. Private Collection Gregg and Jennifer Shienbaum
art history, but I also have become a very good student of the art market. I say student because I am learning the art world, and the market, every day. When I leave the gallery, I go home and do homework. I study the market (prices) of the various artists that I sell and learn what is out there available on the market. It is my business to know who has what, and at what price. Prices of works fluctuate, like any other products, it depends on supply and demand. The prices for prints and multiples directly correlate to the prices of uniques by the same artist. As the unique works increase in price, and the average person gets pushed out of the unique market, prints and multiples start looking really good. More collectors start looking to prints as a way of obtaining works by specific artists, thus print prices start to rise as well. I have seen the print market for many artists rise steadily over the last 20 years. I gave you the example of the Warhol Sea Turtle earlier, but many artists have followed this path. Some at the same pace, and some at a slower pace, but all deservingly so. Warhol is the one artist that has fascinated me the most, as far as how quickly the print prices shot up, but what fascinates me more is the artists that are as equally important to the art world, and in art history, that are still undervalued. The rise of the price of Warhol is easy to understand. Warhol is the golden child for art investing. The work is easy to understand, universally appealing, and the artist was a ‘character,’ to say the least. His fame outside of the art world as well has made him a household name. Unfortunately, if you want to get a deal in Warhol, you had to have bought it over 10 to 12 years ago. His print prices have moved in to the upper stratosphere of the art world. Today, a collector must pay the going price of Warhol, and know that the buy is in the hold, and most likely you do not have to hold it that long. Prints by Roy Lichtenstein have become like prints of Andy Warhol over the last december 2016 - january 2017 35
Frank Stella, Quathlamba II, from V series, 1968, lithograph 16 ¼” x 29,” edition of 100 pencil signed and numbered. Since his retrospective at the Whitney in New York his prints from Stella's early period have become highly sought after. These prints seen a rise in prices over the last 3-5 years, with still room to go up.
six to eight years. Again, the reasons for this are very much the same as Warhol (minus the ‘character’ part). Works by Warhol and Lichtenstein, even though they have a deeper concept than what viewers see on the surface, are for the most part fun and pleasant and have a good name behind them. These are what we call blue-chip artists or ‘A+’ artists. They will always have value, and the value will steadily increase more and more as time goes by. There are, however, many important artists whose role in art history may have impacted the art world more on an academic level, but their print prices are still very undervalued. It is these artists, and their markets, that fascinate me the most. Prints by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist of the Pop movement, and Joseph Albers, Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt and Ellsworth Kelly of the Minimalism movement are interesting to me, as these artists played such an important role in the development of art, and art history, but whose print prices are what I believe are still undervalued. Let’s take the pop artists that I mentioned above first. Prints by Jasper Johns are expensive and have been for some time now. A screen print of the double flag in color has consistently auctioned for over $1 million. However, there are many prints of fantastic desirable subjects like certain Targets, and Savarin Cans, for example, that are still very affordable, and what I believe to be a good investment in years to come. Prints from Johns’ grey period have been extremely undervalued. Recently the art world has been in agreement with me, and prices have been rising, but there are still many 36 ARTDISTRICTS l www.artdistricts.com
great opportunities to own a very good and important print work by perhaps the most important living artist. Prints by Robert Rauschenberg are even lower in price than Jasper Johns, and these two artists were, in their time, premier printmakers, constantly pushing boundaries in the printmaking field. Although Rauschenberg was a very prolific printmaker, his early print works, considered to be the best in his print career, have only recently over the last two to three years been starting to see a rise in prices, and in my opinion a buy. Johns and Rauschenberg are two artists that single-handedly changed the direction of the art world and its history. Their importance in art is unquestionable, and undeniable. I am amazed that their print prices are not higher. But there are reasons for this. Their artwork can be considered more sophisticated, and scholarly, as compared to Warhol, and their images and subject matter may not be as universally and aesthetically appealing as other artists. So if you are not learned in art history you might chose a more easy work to understand to hang in your home. So in this case certain prints by Johns and Rauschenberg are a buy. Every serious collection needs a Johns and Rauschenberg The same can be said for the print works of Joseph Albers and Frank Stella. These artists as well as a few others are also undervalued but are not seeing an uptick in their print prices. With the prices of Warhol and the other Pop artists rising and becoming almost unattainable, these artists (mistakenly called the second-tier artists) are still very undervalued but recently have been seeing a rise in prices.
The rise in prices for these artists don’t scare me yet. I believe there is still more room to grow, and buys are to be had. I am a buyer of these artists. J.L.N. - Do you consider investing in fine-art limited editions a short or long-term investment? How do you compare investing in fine-art limited editions to other investments, like real estate for example? G.S. - I believe in the print market as a long-term investment. Although I do not like to sell art as an investment because I think art should be enjoyed because of its artistic merits and not because of the value placed on the work, I do however advise collectors and help build their collections, and very few things bring me more joy. I truly love art, and the freedom it expresses. However, in a world where most things are viewed as materialistic and as a dollar sign, art is not impervious to this perception. Art has become a business, and a big business at that. Art is seen as an asset/investment. As Al Pacino’s character, Ricky Roma, says in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross as he is trying to sell a potential buyer some land in Florida, the only things that can be seen as an asset: “Stocks, bonds, objects of art, real estate. What are they? An opportunity.” And as we have seen from the auctions over the last decade or so, art can be a very substantial investment. So yes, art has become an asset and an investment, and I believe it is okay for it to be seen this way. The people that I know who buy and collect art truly do it for the love of the art. If the art happens to increase in value, then it is a bonus, but I feel the love of art is the real reason that someone collects. J.L.N. - What advice can you give a first time collector on what to invest in? Would you recommend investing in contemporary or modern? What artists do you consider to be a solid investment for a new collector? G.S. - I believe that being a collector helps me understand and relate to my clients better. My clients also feel more comfortable knowing that I feel the same passion that they do and that I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. This also helps in building the confidence of the newer, younger collector. I can show them the purchases I have made over the years and explain the joy I have experienced over the years, as well as the monetary growth in value. However, the very first piece of advice I give to a young new collector is to buy what you like regardless of value. They have to live with the artwork and walk past it every day. If you do not like what you are looking at, then it is not worth buying. And if it just happens to increase in value, then they got lucky. Sometimes these words of advice do not always work to my advantage because I do not sell “decorative” art, but at least I can feel good knowing that when they do buy the work, it is because they appreciate the art and the merits of the artist who created the work. After speaking to the young new collector, and learning of their interests, and style of art, we will sit down and go through works that I feel will fit their taste, style and budget. Many collectors whom I work with, younger and older, are on the same page as I am as far as taste in art. We discuss
the art, the artist’s background, and intentions, and then the artist’s market. Every collector is different, and every collector has a different budget. When we discuss the market, we discuss the style, for example, contemporary or modern, Pop, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, etc. We also discuss certain works of a particular artist, and why one work by that specific artist might be valued higher that another work by the same artist. We discuss trends, and the value of the trend. For example, right now the contemporary print market is so hot that prices have risen to an all-time high for many of these artists. So now, modern art prints are starting to gain attention because the contemporary works are too expensive, and the modern masters have been overlooked and are in many cases undervalued. I am seeing this trend towards modern as of late. Some of the modern art can be more figurative and less conceptual and more aesthetically pleasing. There are some very good buys to be had in the modern print market, and these artists of the modern era can definitely coexist with the artists of the contemporary era. Believe it or not, there are some very good buys in Picasso etchings. Some of his etchings are quite affordable and have room to increase in value in the future. You can definitely hang a Picasso etching of a nude and the artist next to a Warhol Marilyn. J.L.N. - What are the highlights of your exhibition at the gallery during Art Basel Miami Beach Week? Are you participating in any of the art fairs? What will you be showing? G.S. - We are very excited for Art Basel Miami. The gallery in Wynwood will be open everyday, of course. In the gallery, we are showcasing works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Johns, Rauschenberg, Haring, Basquiat, Koons, Hirst, Stella, Kelly, Lewitt and Motherwell, just to name a few. We brought a lot of ‘goodies’ for Art Basel this year. We are also exhibiting at the INK Miami Art Fair at the Dorchester Hotel on Miami Beach. The gallery has been invited to exhibit at this prestigious fair for the second year in a row. At the INK fair we will be showing a steel cut by Tom Wesselmann, the complete set of three lithographs of the rare Free South Africa series by Keith Haring, a stained-glass butterfly window by Damien Hirst and a Reflections piece by Roy Lichtenstein. These are just four works out of approximately 40 other works that we will be exhibiting at INK fair. Please come see us at either the gallery, the INK fair, or both.
Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art is located at 2239 NW 2nd Avenue. Miami, FL 33127 | Phone: 305 456 5478 | www.gsfineart.com | email@example.com. INK Miami Art Fair will take place from November 30th to December 4th, 2016. It is located at the Suites of Dorchester. 1850 Collins Avenue, (19th Street). Miami Beach, FL, 33139. For hours and more information visit, www.inkartfair.com. José López-Niggemann is the publisher and director of ARTPULSE and ARTDISTRICTS magazines.
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