The Associated Press talked to the CEO of Sotheby’s and Christie’s Head of American operations to get a sense of next week’s sales cycle. Not surprisingly, both men see positive things in the current climate:
Sotheby’s president, Bill Ruprecht, acknowledged that the shortage of works coming to market was affecting the business.
“That does not mean there aren’t material transactions happening,” he said. “That just means that there are many fewer transactions because there’s still more a sense of disquiet and inconsistency between what buyers want and what sellers want.”
“It continues to be a watchful environment,” added Christie’s Americas president, Marc Porter. “We have tried very hard to use estimates that are as reflective of the market as possible. … For some fields, we will discover that we need to further refine estimates.”
Okay. That’s the good news on the sell side. (To the extent that it was good news.) Now, how about the buyers? Where’s the silver lining there?
But the economy has not left wealthy buyers and sellers shaken and without resources, as some believe. “They’re sitting with cash and assets and for the most part are not forced to sell,” Porter said.
Many hedge fund and private equity managers, who have been some of the biggest buyers of record-breaking artworks in recent years – remain in the picture. “There are fewer of them … but (they) are still wildly rich and they continue to buy and collect,” he said. “There’s still a Forbes 400 list.”
Museums have also been active buyers in the current market, seeing opportunities to sell objects to buy other objects. The San Francisco De Young Museum, Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts and Yale University Art gallery in New Haven, Conn., are among them, according to Porter. At Christie’s Yves Saint Laurent sale in February, museums from Sweden to Australia placed winning bids on various works.
NYC Spring Auctions Will Be Smaller (Associated Press via Forbes.com)