Colin Gleadell writes some of the best art market coverage anywhere. But from his base in London, through his network of contacts, he covers the action in New York as well. Today’s Telegraph straddles the Atlantic with some statistics on last week’s Impressionist and Modern sales in London and a little gossip on New York’s Old Master sales (all bullet points are quotes from Gleadell’s columns):
- To restore confidence in the market, it was more important to achieve a higher percentage of sales than to attempt to challenge the record sale totals of the previous few years.To do this, they reduced the number of lots by half compared with last February, and kept estimates as low as reasonably possible, cutting them by up to 30 per cent.
In the end, they proved that they had accurately gauged the market. The unsold rate was trimmed to just 20 per cent, and the total for the five sales held by Sotheby’s and Christie’s came in almost plumb on the lower estimate for the series at £126 million.
That may be the lowest total achieved since June 2005, but the selling rate, balancing the new levels of supply and demand, has rarely been bettered.
- One telling statistic to emerge from the select evening sales was that US buying had risen from 14 per cent of lots last year to 25 per cent of lots this year. Asian buying has also risen from two per cent to an average six per cent.
“As for prices, we know better where the market is now,” said Thomas Seydoux of Christie’s, as he headed off to Paris to prepare for this month’s Yves Saint Laurent sale. “There was no magic formula. The success of the sales was due to a mixture of circumstances. But without the low pound we would not have had the results we did.”
- it was London dealer Johnny van Haeften who lifted an eyebrow (his distinctive method of bidding) to secure Hendrik ter Brugghen’s masterpiece The Bagpipe Player for a record $10.2 million at Sotheby’s in New York. To get it, he had to outbid New York dealer Richard Feigen, who was acting for the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Van Haeften had more muscle because he had the support of two other dealers – Konrad Bernheimer of Colnaghi’s in London, and Otto Naumann of New York. Dealers are allowed to combine forces so long as they notify the auctioneers beforehand.
Art Sales: London Markets Make a Good Impression (Telegraph)