Sotheby’s £130m Evening sale of Contemporary art closed out the first half of a spectacular year for Modern and Contemporary art with a bang that felt like a whimper. Part of the problem simply comes from the fatigue of such a long season with so many record sales. Judd Tully had this comment from a dealer:
“The auction houses keep pushing the estimates higher so much every time,” said Paris/Salzburg dealer Thaddaeus Ropac. “We don’t realize how strong the market is.”
Indeed, some noteworthy failures in the Richter, Bacon and Warhol markets this week would seem to suggest a turn of the wheel as stalwart market-driving names lost some of their luster. But as the Richter results show, the works that failed had history against them. Those that succeeded like Sotheby’s Richter, “A B Brick Tower” made strong prices without outpacing the estimates.
The Art Newspaper’s Anny Shaw made this astute point about the market’s shift at the shank end of the season toward the middle:
Overall, contemporary works with estimates in the low hundreds of thousands did well. Just under 40% of lots sold for less than £500,000. “We saw high profile prices in New York. Then in Basel, most works sold for around £500,000. Very few paintings sold for more than £5m. Our results are indicative of where the market is, but they are also indicative of wh ere we are after a six-month season,” Gorvy said.
Even the big names were better represented by middle market subject matter like dollar bill collection of mostly Warhols said to be consigned by Swiss hotelier Urs Schwarzenbach. As Colin Gleadell points out, much of the work was absorbed by engrossers in the Warhol market instead of collectors. Thought the £20m top lot did seem to wind up with a retail buyer:Continue Reading