As we have seen in the past, the good works performed admirably while the ‘stuff’ found it very difficult to find buyers. Taking top honors in this series was Andrew Wyeth, whose Off Shore crushed its $1.2M – $1.8M estimate to sell for $6.35M (there is one happy seller); in second was Maxfield Parrish’s Daybreak – this work was bought by the seller (Mel Gibson) for $7.6M and was offered here with an estimate of $4M – $7M … it sold for $5.23M – there is one unhappy seller!; and taking the third spot was Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Petunia and White Morning Glory which made $4.1M (est. $2M – $3M). Rounding out the top 5 were another work by O’Keeffe at $3.4M and one by Stuart Davis at $3.4M.
As usual, these sales had their ups and downs and in the end, Christie’s edged out the competition by just over $3M – but it should be noted that their sale was much larger. Christie’s offered 180 lots (with a presale estimate range of $35.9 – $55.5M), of which 108 sold, for a sell-through rate of 60% and a total take of $35.1M (that works out to $325,254 per lot sold). Sotheby’s offered 112 works (with a presale estimate range of $28M – $43M), of which 68 sold, for a sell-through rate of 60.7%, and a total take of $32M (that works out to $469,523 per lot sold) – so it appears that Sotheby’s actually had the stronger sale.
When combined, there were 292 works offered, 176 sold, a sell-through rate of 60.3% and a grand total of $67M (or $380,681 per lot sold). To put this in perspective, in May of 2009, 248 works were offered, 154 sold (62% sell-through rate) and the total take was $32.1M (or $208,441 per lot sold). And if we go back to the height of the market, May of 2008, we find that 354 works were offered, 287 sold (a sell-through rate of 81%) and the total take was $159.6M (or $556,097 per lot sold). From these numbers, it appears that the American Art Market still has a lot of room for appreciation