The surprise lurking in the Evening Sale numbers this week is that Sotheby’s actually had a higher average price than Christie’s. That, no doubt, comes from the fact that Christie’s sold a great number more works in their Surrealism sale that traded at a lower price point. These numbers would have skewed even further in Sotheby’s favor had the £5.6m Klimt been included in the total.
What do the charts (above) mean? Simply put, the Impressionist and Modern market, the help of keen interest in Surrealist works, is climbing in average value despite the lower overall value of the sales.
The Imp-Mod market seems to have reached a higher base than during the boom years of 2007 and 2008. Some of this may be because of a growing interest in using art as store of value. The very top end of the market is not a store of value. Masterpieces are purchased for non-financial reasons. But further down the value stack, art would seem to be paying off as what were previously considered “bubble” valuations are being reconfirmed today.
There’s nothing to say that the current market isn’t a continuation of the “bubble;” but the surrounding financial climate is dramatically different. That change suggests art, especially art with a long, confirmed pedigree, continues to gain traction as place to park money.