By most measures, the big Western art auction held in Idaho last weekend was a success. The sale cleared 253 of the 284 lots but in good years 65% of the lots exceed estimates. That just didn’t happen this year and the total was something like a quarter of last year’s haul. That’s a rougher tumble than the rest of the art market. Here’s the report from the Reno Gazette-Journal:
The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, held Saturday afternoon in the Silver Legacy’s Grande Exhibition Hall, grossed nearly $11.5 million, with the sale of one Charles M. Russell watercolor accounting for nearly 10 percent of the total.
Organizers put the final gross at $11,375,000, which was down significantly from last year’s $39 million, but not unexpected.
“The buyers aren’t there,” said Reno’s Peter Stremmel, one of four partners who run the auction. “There is no asset class that has been unaffected by this economic downturn. Anyone who says the art market has been unaffected by this is full of it.”
Even so, hundreds of art enthusiasts turned out for the event, which is the largest auction of Western art in the United States and the largest general art auction held outside New York.
The auction’s top sale was Russell’s “The Truce,” a 1907 watercolor that went for $1.8 million. Russell was also responsible for the auction’s third-highest-grossing work, an 1897 oil painting called “Dakota Chief.” It went for $550,000.