Bloomberg‘s Scott Reyburn has done a little math to come up with a year-end story on the fall of the Contemporary art market. Using figures from the Evening sales (even if they didn’t take place during the evening as they didn’t during Frieze) he comes up with a 75% decline in sale volume:
Sotheby’s and Christie’s International made a combined total of $482.3 million with fees from their five regular “Part I” sales of high-value art in New York and London this year, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg News. In 2008, the same group of flagship auctions made $1.97 billion. That compares with a record $2.4 billion in 2007, and $1.1 billion in 2006.
Let’s make a quick chart of that for you:
The only issue with this data is that it is nothing more than a chart of the Contemporary art bubble, not exactly news. What is significant is that we’re seeing evidence that the 2009 level may hold. Usually the after effects of a bubble will punish an asset class for years to come. Reyburn’s article goes on to point to July as the bottom of the market with continual signs of recovery throughout the Fall.
Even though prices are still expected to remain at 2005 levels both houses report strong interest returning among sellers to match buying interest that never seems to have left:
“It’s balancing from private toward auctions again,” said [Francis] Outred, of Christie’s. “It’s like the difference between night and day. The phones are ringing and people are interested in selling.”
Sotheby’s, Christie’s Contemporary-Art Sales Total Drops 75% (Bloomberg)