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The most expensive Latin American art lot that exceeded its estimates this Spring was Costa Rican/Mexican scupltor Francisco Zuniga's Grupo de cuatro mujeres de pie which made more than$3.1m at Christie's. Described as Zuniga's successor to the Rodin work, Burghers of Calais, and the apex of Zuniga's long international career. Indeed, the bronze statue representing four inflection points in the lives of women was used on the cover of Zuniga's catalogue raisonné.
That work was one of the bright spots in the week of Latin American sales which struggled on several fronts. The overall sell-through rates were below 60%; the combined total for all three houses was $42m against an aggregate low estimate of $49m. Without the buyer's premium, the hammer ratio of $34.3m against that $49.2m aggregate low estimate was a demoralizing .69.
Put another way, the Latin American art work only realized two-thirds of its low estimate market price. Of the 218 lots that did sell, only 41 or less than 20% made prices above the high estimate like the Zuniga pictured above. Nearly half the lots sold, 91, were sold at prices below the low estimate disappointing consignors. A greater number, 146, failed to sell.
Those numbers don't give us a true sense of the Latin American market. As the sales stats show, the top ten lots accounted for half of the hammer total and 41% of premium total.
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