New York Auction Action
“The rapidly rebounding art market faces a critical test next week in New York, when auction houses will try to sell a mix of Impressionist, modern and contemporary works valued at nearly $1 billion,” opens Kelly Crow in “The Art Market Snaps Back” from the April 29 issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Things that stood out in the article include:
- Crow writes that the art market has “largely improved” as Christie’s and Sotheby’s combined to sell $9.3 billion worth of art work last year. In 2009, the combined total was nearly half that figure – $4.8 billion. Sales peaked in 2007 at a combined $11.3 billion.
- “Those who lost fortunes when contemporary-art values plummeted are treading carefully now, no longer afraid to walk away if a trendy name seems overpriced.”
- According to Artvest Partners, in the last five years, China’s spending on art auctions and galleries has quadrupled to $10.9 billion. Consequently, China is now outselling Britain, according to the European Fine Art Foundation.
- “Auction houses say newcomers are asking for large-scale pieces—possibly wanting to get their money’s worth on an inch-by-inch basis.”
- “Subject matters that are universally understood—love, death, family, pretty scenery—are also outperforming the artistically cryptic or obscure. Dealers say collectors are seeking to buy works that might be easier to resell later to a global audience.”
The article goes on to breakdown the art market’s outlook by categories- Contemporary, Impressionist and Modern, Asian, Jewelry, Old Masters, and Antiquities.
Notes from the Contemporary section:
- “The market’s most speculative sector spans art made between 1945 and today, from the emotive testosterone of Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko to the distilled quiet of Minimalism to Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop and beyond.”
- Sotheby’s will be auctioning Koon’s porcelain sculpture, “Pink Panther”, beginning at $20 million. This points to the resurgence of the art market as Koon’s sculptures “rarely topped $6 million during the recession.”
- Warhol is still contemporary art’s cash cow at auction. On May 11, Christie’s will have three self portraits available for auction, including his 1986 red-on-black “Self Portrait” priced at more than $30 million. However, many expect it to earn more than $40 million.
Credit: Self Portrait, 1986. 9-foot red-on-black self-portrait. Photo by AP.
By Ryan Sachetta