Colin Gleadell sums up the London Contemporary sales in the Telegraph. Here we’ve re-edited his prose into some basic themes:
This year’s sales had less than half the amount of lots on offer compared to last year’s, and they had an even lower proportion of high-value works for sale. [ . . . ] Works bought four to 10 years ago were making substantial profits. What was remarkable was that, in this time of extreme uncertainty in financial markets, 80 per cent of the 462 works that were offered last week were sold. If there was a discernible pattern it was that things were tougher at the top, where buyers and sellers have gone into retreat, than lower down the price range. [ . . . ]
Weightwatchers founder Richard Cooper, who sold a Jeff Koons sculpture he had bought in 1997 for $250,000 to the Gagosian Gallery for £2.8 million ($4.1 million). Another collector, who had spent £150,000 on one of Anish Kapoor’s early concave stainless-steel mirror sculptures in 1996, saw it sell for just short of £1 million, well over the estimate. [ . . . ] The global character of this market was underlined with strong bidding from Asia and the Middle East. One Middle Eastern buyer outbid London dealer Ivor Braka for Bridget Riley’s eye catching Gala, which sold within estimate for £735,650. [ . . . ] Los Angeles filmmaker Stavros Merjos did well to sell a painting by Koons which he had bought for around $500,000 in 2003 for £1.4 million ($2 million) to the Gagosian Gallery.
the larger, lower-value day sale which, at £7.3 million, exceeded its highest pre-sale estimate. Here, where prices ranged generally from £10,000 to £250,000, Sotheby’s calculated that average lot prices were almost double what they were in the comparable sale in 2005. [ . . . ] Christie’s day sale, however, came closer to its target with a £3.5 million total that included a record £73,250 for a painting by Julian Opie. The majority of lots sold within or even above estimates. [ . . . ] it was Phillips’s day sale which did best. While the evening sale fell short of the estimated £6.8 million at £4.2 million, the day sale hit its low-end target at £1.6 million with a much higher proportion of works finding buyers.
“There are still a lot of buyers in this market,” said Brett Gorvy of Christie’s after the sales, “but less above, say, half a million dollars. The billionaire buyers have mostly gone, and there seems to be an easier flow of money in the lower range where there is more choice in what to buy.”
Contemporary Art Sales (Telegraph)