[private_subscriber][private_bundle]Sotheby’s has chosen Saint Anton (Flat Light) (est. £2,000,000–£3,000,000), a seasonally appropriate winter scene by Peter Doig for its cover even though the painting is not the most highly estimated lot of the sale (Lucian Freud’s self-portrait is).
In fact all three houses have chosen not to put their top lots on the cover; perhaps they are hoping to make sleeper hits out of less expensive lots. Not that Doig needs the boost. His market caught fi re after 2005, peaking in 2007 when White Canoe sold for $11,283,464 at Sotheby’s February sale (Fig. 17).
Since then, his works have become a staple of evening sales, especially in London. In 2009, the houses tested his buoyancy in a fickle market, and he came through with flying colors. His buy-in rate was lower than in 2008, and 65% of his works sold above estimate (Fig. 18).
Doig’s paintings have also performed better than those by other postwar artists with similar average prices and lot volume like Cy Twombly and Philip Guston (Fig. 20)—further proof that he is not going anywhere.
Christie’s is also jumping on his bandwagon, offering a Doig with the same estimate as the Sotheby’s cover lot. Since 2007, Christie’s has aimed high with its Doig estimates, a strategy that disappointed in 2008 but was vindicated in 2009 (Fig. 19). Sotheby’s has been more conservative, and as a result their Doigs typically exceed expectations. Saint Anton probably will as well: In 2008 another of the artist’s winter scenes sold for $3,360,147 in London—and this year’s model is a better example of the elaborate landscapes that Doig has made his name on.