Colin Gleadell is putting some thought into how online art sales succeed and what the necessary ingredients might be:
A brand name, low prices and a single, trustworthy source would seem to be some of the necessary ingredients.
Some of these applied to the latest online-only auction success, a sale by The Auction Room of tribal art from the collection of Maurice Bonnefoy, a New York-based dealer and connoisseur who died in 1999. Bonnefoy was stationed in Egypt during the Second World War and amassed a large African primitive art collection, and this sale of 112 lots also included examples from Asia, Australasia, and the Americas. With estimates in the lower hundreds of pounds, every lot sold, some, such as the Akan terracotta bust, for as much as £4,700.
What the sale total was is anyone’s guess because The Auction Room doesn’t provide results. However, that desire for evanescence doesn’t apply to bragging rights. On their press page, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart the sale’s curator, said there were “over 3,000 bids executed from a truly international audience. The final result, which was more than five times the pre-sale low estimate….” Again, what that low estimate was, or the 5x multiple, remains a mystery. Georgia Spray, The Auction Room’s press officer, only says that “the sale total was over £100,000.”