Here’s an interesting way to look at the last decade in the market for Impressionist and Modern Art in New York. If we split the decade in half, we get a neatly divided sample. The first half begins with the rocky events of 9/11 and the 2002 recession but ends with some greater stability and market advancement. The average total sale volume for the New York Evening sales of Impressionist and Modern art in this period is $217 million.
Beginning in 2006, the Imp/Mod market shifts into overdrive. Average sale volumes in New York become much larger but the sale totals become much more volatile. Beginning with November 2006 and the sale of the Bloch Bauer Klimts, these sales are dominated by a few very valuable paintings.
Like the Brody collection, a handful of works in the November 2006 sale accounted for a substantial portion of the week’s total turnover. In that second half of the decade, where average auction volume in the evening sales was $458 million, liquidity provided by auction house and third party guarantees plays an important role. Look at the evaporation of sales in 2009 (obviously other factors were at work there too) and remember that the auction houses had abjured guarantees during that period.