Whether the crisis is over in the art world all depends on your perspective as revealed in this article from The Art Newspaper. Lindsay Pollock reports that some dealers are taking a loss to get inventory sold and free up their capital while others are benefitting from having the right artist at the right time:
Many of the 300 exhibitors came to the fair with low expectations and were surprised to find conditions less bleak than forecast. “I think the crisis is over in the art world,” said Basel-based dealer Miklos von Bartha, who specialises in constructivist and non-figurative works. He sold ten pieces during the first two days of the fair, including French sculptor Bernar Venet’s wispy wood, 1982, One Indeterminate Line for 1160,000 to a Zurich collector. Venet’s work was also on view as part of the Venice Biennale, which helped prime sales all over the fair. […]
When dealers were able to adjust prices, sales took place. A Richard Prince “Joke” painting from a consignor was priced $1.3m and found no takers. A more realistic price for the work today is about $800,000 says New York dealer Per Skarstedt. “People who own good material are in a position to have greater flexibility with prices,” he says, adding that he owns 90% of what he brings to a fair. He sold a 1995 Martin Kippenberger painting, I Am Too Political, for $1.4m—under the $1.5m he recently paid for the work. “Everything we bought in the last year-and-a-half—we overpaid.” He says he doesn’t mind cutting his losses since other deals are profitable. He also sold Mike Kelley’s 1990 Empathy Displacement, including a black-and-white painting and a handmade doll for $225,000. The 2008 price was $450,000, Skarstedt says, and he was initially asking $275,000.
Surprise Success: Art Basel Dispels Credit Crunch Blues (The Art Newspaper)