The Telegraph‘s Colin Gleadell reports on the growth of private sales. Using Sotheby’s unique Beyond Limits exhibition space at the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatworth House as a backdrop, Gleadell confirms what the auction houses have already been saying for sometime, art sales remain strong but they’ve also gone private:
Stephane Cosman Connery, the son of actor Sean Connery, heads Sotheby’s private sales in New York. “It’s a sign of the times,” he says of the increase. Since the high unsold rates of last autumn, and the end of the guarantee system for sellers, in which owners were promised hefty sums in advance of a sale, “people have been nervous about selling at auction”.
In a private sale, not only can they ask high prices, but they can do so discreetly, without risk of public failure.
Failure, though, is rare in the private sales department. Sotheby’s knows what buyers are looking for, where it can be found, and actively seeks it out for private sales. “We sell about 90 per cent of what we take on,” says Connery. “The majority recently has been Impressionist paintings in the $1 million to $5 million range.”
Confirming the trend, Christie’s, which announced £133 million of private sales for the first six months of the year, says that during June and July, its private sales grew by “more than 40 per cent” above the same period last year.
Francis Outred, Christie’s head of postwar and contemporary art in Europe, says that private sales in his department have outstripped auction sales so far this year. To cope with the demand, he has appointed Matthew Carey-Williams as director of private sales for contemporary art in Europe.
Carey-Williams is well qualified for the job. After working at Sotheby’s, he joined the Gagosian Gallery in New York, and then the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London, which became a subsidiary of Christie’s 18 months ago.
Big Money Sales Behind Closed Doors (Telegraph)