Bloomberg plays the expectations game and wonders why the “slow start” to art sales this season. Of course, that wasn’t a slow start at all, as you can see from the charts below:
Much of the commentary on the New York Impressionist and Modern sales last week revolved around the idea that the sales themselves were lackluster. And though it is true that no single exceptional work made an eye-popping result, these charts of the sales totals from last week reveal a very different story from the auction night reaction. Above is a chart of the Evening sale totals. Remember that Evening sales can be skewed by the performance of a few outlying works like Edvard Munch’s The Scream in May of 2012 and Brody’s Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust. Removing both of those nine-figure works would give the chart a steadier progression from the depths of the credit crisis in 2009 to last week’s strong total result.
Switching to the day sale where we see starker evidence that the Impressionist and Modern market continues to benefit from the aspirations of global buyers to own a piece of European cultural history. The day sales were as strong as they’ve ever been since the world’s financial system seized up. Yes, more money has gone toward Contemporary art. But that should not distract us from the health of this market.