The reporters are chasing down quotes. The press office is tallying up numbers. And James Frey is hanging around with a trio of blondes. How bad could the art market be?
Sotheby’s worked extra hard tonight to sell their consignments. Most of the lots went for numbers that were significantly below the low estimates.
Tobias Meyer: Contemporary Art Market is alive and well. 81% sold tonight vs. 69% last year. Recalibrated market. That they responded to. $47m in sales.
Anthony Grant: Encyclopedic bunch of pictures. Iconic works of art by these artists. Records were broken for artists work from 80s and 90s. Christopher Wool and Dan Colen. Grant says they made a calculated choice to put him Evening sale. Kippenberger Self-Portrait and Munoz double figure on a bench singled out. Charles Ray drawing and Kusama sculpture also highlighted.
Someone asks if Kippenberger was sold to the irrevocable bidder. Answer is a very precise: It sold in the salesroom. The bidder, of course, could have been in the room.
Meyer and Grant pitching the idea that works sold above the low estimates. (You have to add the buyer’s premium and the estimates are meant to be for hammer prices.)
Meyer says he’s confident they will sell the Gober cover lot after the sale. Thinks that previous successes had flushed out perhaps too many Stellas.
Regional breakdown: Not just two communities buying. Museum curators to boot from all of these countries. Meyer: no pullback in the level of international activity. Pullback in prices but not buyers. The new buyers are there but have integrated themselves into the new price consciousness. Russian buyers were active, Meyer admits.
Grant: The ground feels more solid now than it did in November. They used London as a basis point for estimates.
Meyer: Their plan was to go to artists with a very solid collecting background. Kippenberger is a case in point of an artist who now has a stronger collecting base.
Grant: Diebenkorn eluded us. There was a fair amount of interest but the picture may have suffered from the elusive nature of connoisseurship. More landscape than Ocean Park. Confident they’ll sell it later.
What about the Koons market? Meyer: Koons is a world class artist. Devoted collecting community that supports him. Koons was sold for a serious amount of money for a very serious artist. Comparison prices were from a very different world. There were several people competing for it. That’s what was satisfying. Meyer says he didn’t have to work hard to get bidders. Wasn’t difficult to find buyers at this level.
Back to Koons: Meyer says there was little protective bidding from dealers but was bought for a collector and the underbidder was bidding for a collector too.