Subasta Habana, Cuba’s official auction house, held its tenth annual sale earlier this month. Subasta Habana’s director Luis Miret, in New York for the PINTA Latin American Art Fair, chatted with Cuban Art News about the auction results.
According to Miret, revenues from the sale hit more than $600,000, with the total poised to approach $1 million with after-sales. “Given the economic climate, we did really well,” Miret said. “We expected more, because we had two important pieces that didn’t make their estimates, and didn’t sell.” Even so, he says, “it was our best auction in four years—the best since 2007.”
The number of international bidders, who participated by phone or through representatives in the sale room, increased this year—including an uptick in first-time participants. “We had new people coming from Switzerland, from Hong Kong, Argentina, and England,” said Miret. The number of U.S. bidders increased slightly, showing a growing awareness of Cuban art. “I was surprised to see so many European and Asian phone bidders,” he noted. “We had mostly European bidders this time.”
With a total of 130 lots on the schedule—70 for decorative arts, 60 for contemporary art—the auction was, for the first time, divided into two evenings, one for each category.
In the contemporary sale, heated bidding surrounded the two works that fetched the highest prices. The 2011 Roberto Fabelo painting Gran huevo went to a telephone bidder, bringing in the auction’s top hammer price of $57,500, and a top Servando Cabrera Moreno work, the 1957 Figura con ave, brought $51,750. “These pieces, and several others, like the Carlos Garaicoa photographic series, sold well,” said Miret. “With the contemporary art, most of the artists sold. I have never seen so many after-sale offers for works.”
What comes next? “We’re already starting to prepare the next one,” Miret says with a laugh. “We don’t rest. We already have people who want to present work for us, and we’re happy to be getting more interest from abroad. There are more people interested in putting up pieces for sale with us. And the experience of the people who did it this year was good. They were very happy with the works and the prices we got for them.”