You are already a lot of chatter about how the Contemporary art market is in a swoon and buyers are fleeing the top end. You wouldn’t know it from looking at Christie’s top lot in the London Post-War and Contemporary Art sale next month. Peter Doig’s The Architect’s Home in the Ravine may be one of the painter’s most frequently traded works.
If first sold in 2002 at Sotheby’s in London where it made an impressive, for the time, £314,650 during the June Evening sale of Contemporary art. That was before the explosion in Doig’s market caused by a bidding war in February of 2007 where the artist’s White Canoe made £5.7m against a pre-sale high estimate of £1.2m.
The Architect’s Home, however, was an inflection point in the follow up to that sale. With so much interest in Doig’s work, Sotheby’s brought the painting back to the block in May of 2007 in its New York sale of Contemporary art. That night, the picture made nearly 12 times what it had sold for just five years earlier or $3.624m.
Six years later, Christie’s moved in and persuaded the consignor to put the work up in London where it beat estimates again to sell for £7.65m over a £6m high estimate. In dollar terms, the work more than tripled from 2007 to 2013.
But since that sale, Doig’s work has achieved six higher prices topping out at $25.9m paid in May of last year for another White Canoe. This time, Christie’s must be more confident that buyers now get that Doig prices are no flash in the pan. The 2007 sales saw The Architect’s Home lag a White Canoe significantly. But this time, the work will have to close the gap to make it a solid return for the seller. The auction house’s estimates make that clear. At £10-15m, the estimate range begins above the price the consignor previously paid. It ends at a price just below the record when you add the premium.