The Australian sums up the mood in the country’s art market where auction volume is down 35% from 2007:
Auction sales peaked at a record $175.6 million last year. This year’s $114.5 million worth of trade, though well down on last year, is still higher than the total sales figure for 2006.
Unlike the early 1990s crash, when several commercial galleries and dealers were forced to close their doors, industry players say the current scenario is less bleak. Significantly, serious collectors who stopped buying during last year’s overheated art market are slowly returning.
Sotheby’s remains a significant player in Australia having sold the most expensive lot this year, a portrait by Russell Drysdale.
Sotheby’s managing director Lesley Alway said this year had been tough.
“No one predicted the fallout that occurred from mid to later this year from the global economy situation,” Ms Alway said. Despite continuing industry rumours that Sotheby’s might follow Christie’s and shut its Australian operation, the company was here to stay.
“We’ve just had approval to go ahead for our business plan for next year,” she said. Sotheby’s had already consigned some important paintings for its auction next year.
Tough year but Australian art dealers hang in there (The Australian)