The Impressionist and Modern cycle is complete in London. We’ll try to put together a more comprehensive look at the combined sales, including day and works on paper, later on but for now let’s look at the big picture. London has been the site of a great deal of buying from “emerging markets” in the last few years. You can see that the Winter of 2006 commenced a dramatic rise in sales volume peaked last Summer. Interestingly, this Winter’s sales continued a trend in rising average prices that was only broken this week.
However, that break was still moderated by the overall rise since 2005. In fact, it is too easy to forget that though the charts show 2004 with greatly diminished numbers–and this last week with totals nearing the levels of Summer 2005–the early noughties were still good years for art sales with numbers that remained ahead of some of the trough of 2002 and above much of the late 1990s.
The secret lies in the number of lots sold. The final chart reveals the dramatic shift in the London I/M auction market where markedly fewer lots were sold in 2009 than in previous years helping to maintain a higher average price than the sale volume would have previously supported.