Kelly Crow does some explaining on the current auction house strategy to support the art market’s momentum. Impressionist and Modern art is a masterpiece market these days. But so far supply and demand have been limited driving price momentum. With this Fall’s sales greatly increasing supply, demand has to come from somewhere:
[A]nalysts think the earlier, constricted supply probably spurred a run-up in prices this spring because billionaire bidders had only a few plums to fight over. Now that the offerings are expanding again, a broader base of buyers will need to compete on a variety of price levels to maintain the art market’s recovery, according to Suzanne Gyorgy, managing director of Citi Private Bank Art Advisory & Finance.
Auction houses are turning to Asia for reinforcements. Newly wealthy collectors in mainland China have only just started to buy Impressionist and modern art, but their purchasing power is hard to miss. Ken Yeh, deputy chairman at Christie’s Asia, said last fall that he only knew of three bidders between Shanghai and Beijing who were willing to spend over $20 million on an Impressionist painting. As of last week, that roster had grown to 20. (Both houses are hiring extra Mandarin-speaking staff for these sales.) Sotheby’s kicks off this two-week set of sales Tuesday with a group that includes colorful works suiting Asian tastes like Claude Monet’s 1917 “Water-lily Pond,” priced to sell for at least $20 million, and Henri Matisse’s cheery “Dancer in a Chair, Checkerboard Floor” priced to sell for at least $12 million.
Fall Auctions: Will Bigger Be Better? (Wall Street Journal)