The Park City Record ran a story on a failed art auction held during the winter ski season. The article is meant to be a measure of the luxury market and how it is fairing in the recession but it ends up being an interesting little window into the art trade in a resort town:
Park City’s gallery scene is regarded as the most exclusive art marketplace in Utah, and artists like Picasso and Chagall are not widely carried in the state. DeVon Stanfield’s Main Street gallery, Stanfield Fine Art, though, dedicates roughly 20 percent of its space to art by the masters, accounting for between 40 percent and 45 percent of the value of the gallery’s inventory. At $59,500, a Chagall piece, signed by the master and part of his “Four Tales from the Arabian Nights” series, is the most expensive painting on display.
Stanfield says sales of art made by the masters are down in 2009, and their pieces have tied up some of the gallery’s money since he must purchase them outright in order to carry them, a different scenario than with pieces by newer artists that do not require the same investment by the gallery.
But he talks of several high-dollar sales of masterworks this winter as well, capped by a $30,000 Picasso purchased late in the ski season. Two pieces by Rembrandt van Rijn, both in the $25,000 range, also sold this winter, he says.
“We’ve had to negotiate. They’re tough as nails. We’re not making a lot of profit,” Stanfield says. “Right now might be the best time to collect something.”
Auction goes bust: a $79,000 Picasso, anyone? (Park Record)