Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn has a preview of this week’s London sales of Impressionist and Modern art. Reyburn calculates the combined low estimate for the sale at £100.4 million. If the sales achieve that low-water mark, it will be very good news indeed. According to Art Market Monitor’s charts, the £100 million threshold is what divides the super-heated market of 2006-2008 from the merely strong market of 2004-2005. Anyone at an auction house today would be happy if the market could set even the less ambitious floor of £60 million.
Reyburn’s story, which details the retreat in the volume of art on offer, can be summed up by its closing paragraphs:
“The auction houses are being more conservative,” said Jonathan Green, managing director of the London dealers, Richard Green. “They want good results. They’re not pushing estimates to the last penny, which is putting off some sellers.”
“Impressionist and modern art is a less speculative market than contemporary,” said Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern department. “It’s still perceived as blue-chip and safe.”
Bertazzoni said she was hopeful there would be Russian bidding at the sale. “We hope, but we don’t know. A lot of Russian bidding materializes on the day of the auction, or even an hour before the sale.”
Lautrec Brothel, Degas Dancer, Monet Wife Lift Sales (Bloomberg)