While Art Basel in Switzerland is still the undisputed king of contemporary art fairs, where collectors literally have to run after the most sought after artworks, there has long been friendly competition for second place between London’s Frieze and its Paris equivalent FIAC. For years London was considered to have the edge, bolstered by the stellar organisation of Frieze founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover as well as the important auctions that take place during the same week and the presence of blue chip New York galleries such as David Zwirner and Pace in London. But more recently Paris upped the ante with the arrival of major new art spaces including the museum-sized galleries of Gagosian and Thaddaeus Ropac on the periphique, as well as a new breed of home-grown collectors such as e-commerce entrepreneur Steve Rosenblum, dentist Philippe Cohen and Laurent Dumas, founder of the Emerige property group.

This year, dealers say, it is FIAC that has triumphed. “[Collectors] were choosing between London and Paris,” said Susan Dunne, president of the New York outpost of Pace, to Bloomberg. Pace exhibited at both fairs and Dunne confirmed that Pace sold more by value at FIAC than during the previous week at Freize. The 2011 Kiki Smith colored bronze sculpture “Harmonies II,” priced at $200,000, was among the gallery’s sales.

Influential art advisor Laurence Dreyfus, who attended both fairs and whose annual Chambres a Part selling exhibition is an established part of FIAC’s VIP programme, agrees that Paris is where sales are made. “Frieze is Fashion, FIAC is content,” she explains. “The Parisian fair is working on making the art market safe, instead of taking advantage of speculation.”

After last year’s successful debut of Frieze Masters – an entirely separate fair dedicated to art from ancient to modern – the second edition consolidated the event as spectacular in terms of sales. They included Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Harlem Paper” from 1987, which Brussels’ Vedovi Gallery sold to a European buyer with an asking price of about $5 million; “The Census at Bethlehem” by Pieter Brueghel the Younger and dating from circa 1611, which Johnny Van Haeften sold to a private collector for £6 million ($9.7 million); and Pablo Picasso’s “Femme assise au chapeau” from 1961 at New York’s Acquavella Galleries that sold in the region of the $8-million asking price.

However, the rise of Frieze Masters (“the new TEFAF” according to some dealers) might have conversely affected the performance of the main fair, freezing out the contemporary art collectors who come looking for the cutting edge. “Frieze started as a fair for inexpensive emerging talent,” notes Dunne. “That formula has slightly fallen by the wayside.”

Appearances can be deceiving and the atmospheres at the VIP previews of Frieze and FIAC are confusingly different. Frieze was packed from opening with an audible buzz of socialising. FIAC was more calm but gallerists noted that VVIP collectors had managed to slip into the Grand Palais before the official opening. Billionaires Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault, U.S. financier Henry Kravis, director of the Louis Vuitton Fondation Suzanne Page, and art advisor Patricia Marshall were all spotted walking around the aisles at 8am.

While no sales totals are published by either Frieze or FIAC, the mood amongst dealers seems to suggest that Paris is now where collectors prefer to acquire new works. As FIAC director Jennifer Flay says: “The gallerists exhibiting at FIAC have indicated that, along with Basel, FIAC is the fair at which they realise the largest number of sales, and which provides them with the largest platform for exchange with the broader public.” That is, at least until Art Basel Miami Beach, the next stop on the nomadic art fair circuit which begins on December 5.



FRIEZE: The Sales

The Los Angeles-based sculptor Paul McCarthy has returned to painting with his large-scale canvas She He Enis Penis cut, 2013, which sold at Hauser & Wirth to a European collector during the VIP preview on Wednesday for $750,000.

Two works from New York-based artist Rachel Harrison’s new series of paintings, including Add to Cart, 2013, sold at Galerie Meyer Kainer for €55,000 each.

Das Hemd ist nicht gelb, 2012, by Georg Baselitz, sold for €450,000 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Jindy, 2013, by Charline von Heyl, sold at Galerie Gisela Capitain for $120,000.

An still-life by Joe Bradley from 2013 sold at Eva Presenhuber for $130,000.

Two abstract landscapes by Uwe Kowski sold at Galerie Eigen + Art for €28,000 to €38,000.

Nathan Hylden prints paint onto aluminium without touching the surface. Five of his untitled works from 2013 sold at Johann König for $35,000 each, including one to the British collector David Roberts.

Austrain artist Heimo Zobernig’s untitled 2013 canvas sold at Galerie Meyer Kainer for €38,000.

The Tate’s team of curators had a budget of £150,000 from its Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund to acquire new works for the gallery’s collection. Purchases they made included a sculpture by Terry Adkins (Muffled Drums from Darkwater, 2003) from New York’s Salon 94; The Dies, 2008, a mixed-media work by Christina Mackie, from Berlin’s Supportico Lopez; a video installation (Not Blacking Out, Just Turning the Lights Off, 2011), by James Richards from Istanbul’s Rodeo Gallery; and another video work (Trilogy of Transgression, 2004) by Sturtevant from Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London.

Hauser & Wirth sold the large painting A Woman With A Bit Of Color, 2013, by Mark Bradford for $725,000.

Hauser & Wirth also sold Sterling Ruby’s SP246, 2013, to a private European foundation for $550,000.

At Pace, the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl, after Giovanni Domenico, 2007, sold for $80,000.

At David Zwirner, 27-year-old Colombian artist Oscar Murillo’s Urgencies in Time No.3, 2013, sold for $120,000.

FIAC: The Sales

A giant Jean Dubuffet sculpture placed outside the Petit Palais, opposite FIAC, sold for about $6 million just before the fair via Waddington Custot. The posthumous painted-polyurethane work “Welcome Parade,” which consists of five multicolored dancers, was originally intended for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The sculpture had been made from the artist’s original models by Waddington in collaboration with Pace Gallery in 2008.

Montreal-based collector Francois Odermatt acquired a 2013 totemic dyed-plaster-and-fur sculpture by the 33-year-old Gavin Kenyon, priced at $12,000 with the New York dealer Ramiken Crucible, which sold all its Kenyon pieces within hours of the opening.

Pace sold more by value at FIAC, in the Grand Palais, than during the previous week at Frieze in London’s Regent’s Park. The 2011 Kiki Smith colored bronze sculpture “Harmonies II,” priced at $200,000, was among the gallery’s sales.

Dickinson sold the 1969 painting “Shirt Collar 14 ½" by the Italian Arte Povera artist Domenico Gnoli, priced at 2.5 million pounds ($4 million).

An unidentified Turkish collector bought Bertrand Lavier’s “Dino” (1993) for $250,000 at Yvon Lambert.

Vedovi sold Basquiat’s 1984 “O.M.R.A.V.S.,” showing a lone black figure among electricity pylons on a plain white background for less than $5m.

Galerie Chantal Crousel pre-sold a 2013 white and blue inkjet painting by Guyton to a collector who is donating it to the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. The price was $350,000.

David Zwirner sold Murillo’s “0 + X = 145” for $120,000 to a collector who had reserved the painting before the fair. The gallery also found buyers for Luc Tuymans’s 2013 painting “Cold Shoulder” priced at $1.2 million and a unique Thomas Schutte bronze, “Bronzefrau Nr. 13,” for 2.5 million euros.

Ai Weiwei’s “Iron Tree,” a 2013 sculpture, loomed over the entrance of FIAC and reached towards the glass dome. It sold to a German collector during the first few hours of the preview. The asking price at Neuger-Riemschneider was about 1 million euros ($1.38 million).