The Skyrocketing Value of Women’s Art

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! MacKenzie Bezos is officially Amazon’s second-largest shareholder, Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner comes forward with sexual assault allegations, and the value of women’s art is on a meteoric rise. Have a relaxing weekend.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

– Art appreciation. Let’s go into the weekend with some good news. A new report has identified one area where women are outpacing men by a long shot: repeat auction sales of art.

Art Agency Partners found that Sotheby’s Mei Moses’s Art-Female index rose by 72.9% between 2012 and 2018. That means that “a work by a female artist bought in 2012 would, on average, be worth 72.9% more if sold in 2018,” the firm said in a report out yesterday.

Compare that to the men’s index, which rose 8.3% in the same time frame. The leap in the monetary value of women’s art is jaw-dropping on its own, but consider that for the past 50 years men’s and women’s indexes have moved in parallel and the jump is even more noteworthy.

Previously, “gender didn’t make a difference,” Michael Klein, head of Sotheby’s Mei Moses, told Barron’s, “but what we’re seeing in the past couple of years, is apparently it has.” 

There are a few possible factors behind the trend. As works by male artists—think Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning—become more scarce, dealers and auction houses are focusing buyers’ attention on some of their overlooked—and undervalued—female peers, like Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. It also seems as though the recategorization of women’s work is helping. For instance, Georgia O’Keeffe’s art has performed better when sold as ‘impressionist,’ ‘modern,’ or ‘contemporary’ work, rather than simply ‘American.’

It should be said that male artists still dominate auctions; work by women accounted for just 8% of global auction sales in 2018. But Klein writes in the report that the ballooning value of women’s art could indicate a shift in men’s-versus-women’s share of the art auction market is coming in the next decade. Barron’s

Claire Zillman

claire.zillman@fortune.com

@clairezillman

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

– Ticket to travel. Saudi Arabia announced today that it would finally let adult women obtain passports, travel, and work without prior approval from a male relative. The reform loosens the kingdom’s “guardianship” system that oppresses women. The rule is the latest attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernize and diversify the Saudi economy. He earlier lifted the restriction on women driving but has also served as the kingdom’s de facto ruler as it’s cracked down on women’s rights activists. Guardian

– Share-ing the wealth. MacKenzie Bezos now has 19.7 million Amazon shares registered in her name, making her the company’s second-largest shareholder. The share transfer is one of the only public disclosures about the financial terms of her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Bloomberg

– Olympic allegations. Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner, a bronze medalist and three-time national champion, said this week that she was sexually assaulted by skater John Coughlin in 2008, when she was 17. Wagner is the second skater to come forward with allegations about Coughlin, who died by suicide in January. She says she’s coming forward to keep the sport safe for its young athletes. USA Today 

– Putting stock in trucks. GM stock was up after stronger-than-expected earnings yesterday. The company, led by CEO Mary Barra, expects the second half of the year to be stronger than the first, crediting a “strong full-size truck rollout” and “ongoing cost savings,” including from its job cuts. CNBC

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: GV’s Deena Shakir joins Lux Capital as investment partner. Science Applications International Corp named Nazzic S. Keene CEO. Amherst College appointed Cambridge Associates managing director Letitia Johnson as the chief investment officer of its nearly $3 billion fund. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

– Burqa ban, hijab win. A law banning burqas, niqabs, and other face coverings in public places went into effect in the Netherlands yesterday, but authorities are reluctant to enforce it. The rule doesn’t govern attire on the street, instead targeting apparel at hospitals, government buildings, and on public transit; Amsterdam’s Mayor Femke Halsema is one of the leaders to speak out against the law. In the U.K., meanwhile, 18-year-old Khadijah Mellah just became the first jockey to wear a hijab—and won her race.  

– The scoop on AKK. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer shocked German politics when she agreed to become the country’s defense minister; she’d said many times that she was committed to leading the Christian Democrats, replacing Angela Merkel in that job, and wouldn’t join the cabinet. But her tenure at the head of the party has been rocky, and she needed another post to propel her continued bid to replace Merkel in the true top job: chancellor. Financial Times

– Green Gang. This is one of those stories with movie written all over it. In northern India, a group of poor women banded together as real-life vigilantes. The Green Gang trains in sparring with bamboo canes and holds men accountable—for domestic violence, harassment over dowries, beatings by in-laws—where courts and police don’t. California Sunday Magazine

– Buy one, get one. Along with her magazine editing role, Meghan Markle is releasing a clothing line. Designer Misha Nonoo is behind the collection with Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, and Jigsaw, sold to benefit Smartworks, the charity providing professional clothing to women in need. The Duchess of Sussex noticed the organization received lots of donations, but that they were often mismatched and not ideal for job interviews; for every piece sold, one will be donated. Guardian 

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.

ON MY RADAR

What America gets wrong about Tracy Flick New York Times

CBS defends renewing Bull after allegations: ‘People continued to watch’ Fortune

I’m grateful for every single woman running for president. Even Marianne Williamson Washington Post

Billie Eilish and the triumph of the weird Rolling Stone

QUOTE

“My book is compared to his. I did that not fenced-in. My children were on my lap. I was sitting and I was watching episodes of terrible children’s television shows.”

Fleishman Is in Trouble author Taffy Brodesser-Akner on comparisons of her work to Jonathan Franzen’s





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