Bowie and the online revolution

2016 was a year tinged with sadness as we lost some of our brightest stars from the arts and culture world, with David Bowie passing away following a battle with liver cancer on 10th January. Bowie transpired beyond the stage, his costumes and music videos were works of art in their own right, the singer was also an art collector and writer.

image001-3 London, November 2016. The Bowie/Collector auction totalled $41.1 million. 62% of bidders participated online and 71% were new to Sotheby’s.

In the beginning of November, Bowie's contribution to art was marked with the Bowie/Collector auction at Sotheby's. No one had predicted just how outstanding the results would be, but after Part 1 of the sale of Bowie's personal art collection, it was obvious this was history in the making.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984 Estimate: £2 500 000-3 500 000 Hammer price: £7 093 000 Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984
Estimate: £2 500 000-3 500 000
Hammer price: £7 093 000

47 works, 11 records for British artists, bidders from 46 countries and 100% of lots sold with high estimates doubling to reach a total of $30 million.

Provenance was clearly king at Sotheby's in 2016, but there was also a revolution coming up triumphs. The auction house reported the incredible figures that have come from their online innovations. In 2016, online only buyers spent $155 million at Sotheby's, with 19% of all lots sold at Sotheby's bought via online bidding. And it's proved that this is a winning formula for gaining new buyers as 52% of all online bidders were new to Sotheby's in 2016, meaning the year saw a record of new Sotheby's clients.

Trump art

There's no escaping the changes to the political landscape witnessed in 2016. The art world reacted to this by reimagining political heavyweights, perhaps no one was more captured in sculpture, street art and pencil than Donald Trump.


Illma Gore’s controversial Donald Trump artwork, Make America Great Again made headlines around the globe after it was famously censored in the America.


After Gore's depiction of Trump, we quickly learnt that the now President Elect in the buff was a hit with artists. The Emperor Has No Balls, a sculpture by artist Joshua ''Ginger'' Monroe from a series of five.

At the time each statue was erected in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Cleveland and Los Angeles, a spokesperson told Rolling Stone: ''We started thinking a lot about how dictators and tyrants, all though history, were memorialized through statues."

"Go to any major park in America, you've got some rich white general with a sword.''

Artist Saint Hoax has depicted the soon-to-be-President as both a drag queen and a piece of meat, not to mention the countless street art 'murals' that popped up throughout the election campaign.

Image: Lushsux Image: Lushsux

And let's not forget his opponent, Hilary Clinton. Back in August, street artist Lushsux found his Instagram account deleted after he shared a photo of his latest work: Hilary Clinton scantily dressed in a swimsuit decorated with the American flag.

Iranian artist Atena Farghadeni is freed

Atena Farghadani Image via Global Voices Atena Farghadani
Image via Global Voices

Art focusing on Western politics was not the only thing to make the headlines this year. Iranian artist Atena Farghadeni who was serving a 12 years and 9 months prison sentence after being sentenced last June for a satirical cartoon of the Iranian government, was freed on 3rd May.

In August 2014, Farghadeni was arrested for creating a cartoon which depicted Iranian government officials as monkeys and goats. Farghadeni created the piece in protest against two bills that proposed to outlaw voluntary sterilisation and restrictions on access to contraception.

In June 2015, a Tehran court found the artist guilty of ''spreading propaganda against the system,'' ''insulting members of the parliament'' and that she was a threat ''against national security.'' She was acquitted of the latter.

Farghadani plans to stay in Iran and continue her artwork.

Kahlo reigns supreme


New York's inaugural 20th Century Art Week was a roaring success. The week totalled $562.72 million, with Christie's leading the way, both in terms of figures and for Latin American art.

Christie's Impressionist Modern Art

Frida Kahlo's Dos Desnudos en el Bosque sold for $8 005 000 at Christie's. Not only was this a world auction record for Kahlo, it was also the highest price paid for a work by a Latin American artist.

Show me the Monet

It took just 14 minutes of fierce bidding from five bidders, four on the phone and one of the phone, for a new auction record to be set for Claude Monet. In November, the French Impressionist's Meule (Grainstack) 1891, sold for $81.4 million with fees at Christie's, New York, against an estimate of $45 million.


Works from the grainstack series are rarely seen on the market. The last time one came to auction was on 2001, when it sold for $14.3 million.

The previous auction record for a Monet was set back in June 2008, as Le Bassin aux nymphéas, from the artist's series of water lilies, from 1919, sold at Christie’s London $63.6 million.

Gauguin in Connecticut


No list of awe-inspiring art moments is complete without a Rembrandt turning up at a garage sale or a Caravaggio found in the attic. In June of this year, a ong-lost painting by Paul Gauguin was discovered by a Connecticut auction house in the home of a retired Manhattan antiques dealer. The piece was identified as Summer Flowers in a Goblet, which is listed in the artist’s catalogue raisonné. The Paris-based Wildenstein Institute confirmed the Gauguin work.