Kelly Crow runs some numbers on the art market in 2009 in the Wall Street Journal. The comparisons to 2008, of course, leave a bad taste but the idea that anyone would want to see the art market return to the unsustainable levels of 2007-2008 is frightening. Overall, both houses are down around 50% in the major art categories with Sotheby’s having a slightly steeper fall.
Sotheby’s said it auctioned off about $2.3 billion of fine and decorative art last year, down 53% from 2008. The 2009 total included $441 million in contemporary art, down 68% from 2008; $471 million in Impressionist and modern art, down 57%; and $190 million in jewelry, down 13%. Rival Christie’s International PLC said it auctioned at least $2.5 billion of art, down 45.6% from $4.6 billion in 2008. Closely held Christie’s said it would release complete sales figures later this month. […] Fewer than 550 artworks crossed the million-dollar mark at auction last year, half as many as in 2008, according to Artprice, a Paris-based database that tracks global auction results.
The real eye-opener in these numbers is the strength of Sotheby’s jewelry sales which only fell 13%.