Art Research Technologies launched last year to provide analytic tools that offer a guide to sale prices. This week ART has begun a newsletter on upcoming market events like the New York Americana sales.[private_subscriber][private_bundle] The full report can be downloaded here. Or read this excerpt from their report with more to follow later in the day:
Since 2005, Christie’s and Sotheby’s have alternated victories in the January Americana sales.
The pie charts in Fig. 3 (right) illustrate each house’s auction totals from Americana Weeks 2005–09 in millions of dollars.
Furniture v. Painting
Meanwhile the line graphs of Fig. 4 demonstrate the recent history of the two top-selling sub-categories on which those victories depend: furniture and painting. As Fig. 4 reveals, painting has the capacity to outgross furniture, which it did most notably in 2006 when Christie’s sold Charles Wilson Peale’s George Washington at Princeton, 1779 for $21.3 million. Yet as Christie’s well knows, victories in painting do not necessarily translate into overall triumphs.
Painting Is Not Enough
Since 2006, Christie’s has outdone Sotheby’s in painting—not only in the total value of paintings sold, but also in average painting prices (Fig. 5). Yet Christie’s only beat Sotheby’s in total sales in 2006 and 2008 (Fig. 3), the two years in which their average prices for furniture and total sales of furniture are greater than or close to those recorded at Sotheby’s (Fig. 4 & 6).
Furniture Reigns Supreme
Christie’s is offering more than twice as many furniture lots as Sotheby’s this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will beat its rival. As Fig. 6 shows, Sotheby’s average prices for furniture are usually higher than Christie’s, and this year’s sale is likely to be more of the same.