The New York Times previews auction season by pointing out that the public open-out-cry auctions are no longer the center of the trade:
“The game has definitely shifted,” said Christopher Eykyn, a former head of Impressionist and modern art at Christie’s who is now a dealer in New York. “A lot of clients don’t want to be seen selling, so the private route is suddenly more attractive.” [ . . . ] “Clients want it now,” said Marc Porter, president of Christie’s in America. “And that means cash in their pockets.” Why wait months for the regularly scheduled auctions when you can have instant money, even if it means forfeiting the possibility of sparking a bidding war at auction? [ . . . ] So secret are private transactions that confidentiality agreements bind the dealers and auction-house executives. Still, the art world loves to talk, and in recent months among the expensive paintings that have quietly changed hands are a 1970s de Kooning abstract canvas sold for around $30 million; a Cy Twombly “Blackboard” painting for $12 million; one of Gerhard Richter’s “Color Charts” for $18 million; and Jeff Koons’s “Hanging Heart Violet” sculpture for $11 million.
What’s interesting about some of the numbers cited–and remember that the numbers are the product of dealer gossip–is that some represent rises in price level, as with the de Kooning 70s painting, and others represent remarkable drops in value, like the Koons Hanging Heart, a companion piece in red sold for a little more than twice that price just last year. The red is a more celebratory color, sure. But half is half.
More Artworks Sellin Private in Slowdown (New York Times)