The New York Observer’s Dan Duray did a little reporting this morning to make sense of yesterday’s news that the Warhol Foundation is selling 20,000 works through Christie’s over the next few years. That has led some commentators to assume the works will flood the market or that all 20,000 works are commensurate. The foundation hopes to realize $100 million which Duray puts in perspective by showing that Warhol has a comfortable nine-figure annual turnover:
a major Warhol dealer told us that the private market for Warhol last year was “comfortably over half a billion dollars,” which, when combined with the $346 million the artist brought in at auction last year, describes an annual market that’s closer to $1 billion, making that $100 million closer to just 10 percent of the annual market. Moreover, the most expensive piece Christie’s will sell has a high estimate of $1.5 million…
“It makes no sense,” said the major Warhol dealer, of the implication that the foundation sale might affect the market. “It’s like saying if there was a big sale of Picasso lithographs, the value ofLes Demoiselles D’Avignon would be affected.” […] There’s even reason to think that the sale might help the market, our dealer said.
“It probably will generate more interest in Warhol,” he added, “which is probably good for the market in the long run because it will keep the spotlight on Warhol, it will keep Warhol on in the public’s eye.” That’s something to keep in mind for future coverage of the sale.
The only question that remains is who is Duray’s “major Warhol dealer?”