One of the interesting anomalies of the art market is that it is driven as much by supply as it is by demand. In fact, the two seem to go hand-in-hand as buyers are drawn into the market by a supply of quality works. But declining prices tend to alienate sellers even if they will still realize huge gains. Then, again, many sellers part with their best works not by choice. Sarah Thornton is quoted in the Telegraph to this effect:
“Anyone who puts up a masterpiece in this season needs the money, because the works are not going to realise what they would have done six months ago, or what they might do in three years time. Private collectors selling now are either distress-selling or they want the money to invest in something else.”
Helena Newman, Sotheby’s’ vice-chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide, said: “A lot of people are very distracted by the current economic climate and there is no doubt that putting works to sale in this climate is not going to be as easy as it was six months ago.
Nonetheless, Sotheby’s has a big picture by Oskar Kokoschka Istanbul I from 1929, which like the Malevich that sold for $60 million in New York, comes to market because of a restitution case. The cityscape is estimated at £1.8 million. Sotheby’s Newman:
“Kokoschka’s works are highly sought after, and there are not many in private hands, so it is very rare to see a work of this quality come on to the market from a private collection.”
Christie’s is selling a Modigliani just as the painter’s most avid buyers–Russians–are in their weakest financial position in ages. This one:
has been in the same family collection for more than 90 years and has never before been put up for auction. [ . . . ] Les deux filles, painted by the Italian artist in 1918, which features two girls sitting side by side, is one of only five double portraits by Modigliani, with the other four all in major public collections.
The painting, which will be sold by the descendants of Jonas Netter, one of Modigliani’s most avid collectors during the artist’s lifetime, is expected to fetch up to £5.5 million at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London on February 4.
Credit Crunch Draws Masterpieces on the Market (Telegraph)