The I/M Day sale at Sotheby’s brought In $26.8 million with under 40% sold but there’s still hope in the art market. Here’s a press release from a small auction house in Westchester County, just outside New York City. What’s more interesting than that they sold one lot for $176,000, is that they sold a $70,000 Orientalist picture to a telephone bidder from the Middle East:
Despite initially strong buzz leading up to the sale, Ronan Clarke was nervous as he stepped to the podium Monday evening to open his Fifth Annual Fine Art Auction October 27th. The day found the stock market swinging wildly again and several bidders had just telephoned to announce they were canceling their bids. The major auction houses were reporting weak art sales with high percentages of unsold works and multimillion dollar losses. While some in the house congratulated Clarke on the breadth and depth of his inventory, and others wished him luck, there were those who openly wanted a fire sale.
(All the drama and excitement after the jump.)
“I’ve never had a stronger catalog, but the timing was never worse, not even after 9/11”, admitted Clarke.
Three and a half hours later, Clarke brought the gavel down on his last lot, having set the auction gross record for his own ten-year old business while shattering the auction record for African-American artist Beauford Delaney. Clarke Auction had previously set the art auction record for Joseph Delaney, Beauford’s younger brother.
African-American Art Record
Monday’s historic painting, estimated at $30,000-50,000, was a 48″ by 37″ oil dated 1950 of an abstracted city street with Delaney’s heavy swirling impasto and spiritual yellows. Two Manhattan auction houses had shared the auction record of $104,500 for a Delaney oil, now held by Clarke Auction at $176,250, a differential even more striking considering Clarke’s lower buyer’s premium.
The same estate also provided a Delaney charcoal portrait of a black woman wearing a cloche, believed to be the first work to arrive at auction dating from Beauford Delaney’s 1929 arrival in Harlem. That work, estimated at $3000-5000, was in retrospect a relative bargain at $6462.
An Orientalist oil by the Italian Fabio Fabbi, estimated at $40,000-60,000 and also completely fresh-to-market after 70 years in a Bronxville home, sold to a telephone bidder in the Middle East for $70,500.
Clarke Auction Defies Market, Shatters Record, 92% of Lots Sold – October 27, 2008 (Times of the Internet)