There’s a lot of talk in the art market these days about the lack of a middle market. Masterworks attract big money but anything less than spectacular is shunned. Sotheby’s proved last night that there’s another way to view the middle market.
In a sale that topped estimates and the previous year’s totals, Sotheby’s sold 90% of their lots (with three withdrawn before the sale) for £50.7m without breaking the £5m threshold.
Sotheby’s did that with a slew of Gerhard Richter paintings that brought a little less than Christie’s one Bacon the night before. What makes the Richter market so interesting is how it operates without a single major market maker despite such high volume. Though Sotheby’s is surely making a run abt being the leading force behind Richter-mania.
“After the buzz of that collection, people were keen to cash in,” said Heinrich zu Hohenlohe, director of the Berlin branch of the dealership Dickinson. “There’s a lot of Richter out there, and the market seems able to absorb it. He produces paintings that appeal to every kind of taste and there are buyers coming in from all over the world. They think art is a good place to be at the moment.”
“If interest rates remain low, prices will keep rising,” the Montreal-based collector Francois Odermatt said in an interview. “People aren’t making any money on deposit and when there’s a financial crisis, they want art assets. I just wish I’d bought Richter when they were more affordable.”
“If there are two artists who are hot in my book,” ventured New York dealer Christophe van de Weghe as he strode out of the salesroom, “they are Basquiat and Richter. That’s what appeals to young collectors today.”
The Master also tracks some interesting stats along with quoting a buyer who says more and bigger Kleins will be coming on the market soon:
- Yves Klein’s “ANT 59” (1960), a pigment in synthetic resin on paper laid down on canvas and bearing the unmistakable imprint of a woman’s body sold to a telephone bidder for £937,250 ($1.5 million) (est. £450-650,000). It last sold at Sotheby’s London in June 2009 for £457,250 ($751,314). Doubling its value in 32 months is a sure sign of a market recovery.