Last week’s initial Contemporary art sales in London surprised to the upside setting up expectations for today’s sale at Christie’s and tomorrow’s at Phillips. Bloomberg does a quick recap of Sotheby’s sale last week:
Sotheby’s achieved a selling rate of 89 percent at its 144-lot day sale on Feb. 6, following the 93 percent selling rate at the U.S.-based company’s slimline 27-lot auction the previous evening. The day sale totaled 7.3 million pounds with fees, against a high estimate of 6.5 million pounds, based on hammer prices.
“If anything, the day sale was more exciting and interesting than in the good times,” the London-based modern and contemporary art dealer Conor Macklin, director of the Grosvenor Gallery, said in an interview. “Now that prices have come down, more people are willing to bid. A lot of my clients were nervous about buying artists they felt were hyped or overpriced.”
The top price at Sotheby’s day sale was the 397,250 pounds paid by a European collector for a 1959 green Lucio Fontana “Concetto Spaziale” canvas with seven slashes, estimated at 180,000 pounds to 250,000 pounds.
Estimates for contemporary works had been reduced by 30 percent to 50 percent to attract buyers, said dealers. The average price per lot was 57,000 pounds. Last February at Sotheby’s 295-lot day sale, the average was 100,000 pounds, according to Bloomberg calculations.
“If prices are down 50 percent, then people will think this is a reasonable correct,” said London dealer Richard Nagy. “But if the economic news gets worse, there will be more discounting.”