[private_subscriber][private_bundle]Warhol may have been the one to break through contemporary art’s post-boom price ceiling last November when 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43,762,500 at Sotheby’s, but that doesn’t mean his market is recession proof. Indeed, his numbers looked as bad as everyone else’s in Q4 2008 and Q1 2009 when his total sales, average prices and high prices sunk well below their 2007 levels (Fig. 10).
As Fig. 11 shows, his average prices, exclusive of outliers like the November 100 Dollar Bills sale, have exhibited a relatively consistent and gradual decline since 2007. Although Warhol’s outliers have buttressed his market, they have been 30% more volatile than his overall market and 40% more volatile than the performance of his lots with non-outlying prices. Such volatility is clearly expressed by Warhol’s buy-in rates at evening sales, which increased throughout 2008, reaching their peak of nearly 70% in Q4 (Fig. 12).
Last year the houses brought his BI rates back down by reigning in their typically plentiful Warhol offerings. As Fig. 13 shows, far fewer of his works appeared at evening sales in 2009 than in previous years. However, he still underperformed in Q1 2009, which might help explain why only four of his works are offered in next week’s sessions (two at Christie’s, one at Sotheby’s and one at Phillips). Such scarcity may indicate a longer term strategy of starvingthe market for Warhol.