Many observers have assumed that auction estimates and prices had maxed out a year or two ago as the global economic recovery seemed to level off. But this season shows there’s the potential for another leg up, as Pilar Ordovas comments to Bloomberg:
“There’s excitement because certain works that have been in private collections for a long time are now coming to auction,” said Pilar Ordovas, whose contemporary art gallery Ordovas is based in London. “If these trophy works get strong results, then prices will come up overall. We may see collectors who weren’t sellers become sellers. It may become the right situation for them.”
Tuesday night’s Impressionist and Modern sale at Sotheby’s would seem to be a case in point. The two top lots have recent reference prices that would appear to be out of date. For the Giacometti, it’s the 2010 sale of a “Walking Man 1” for $104m. And in the case of the Modigliani Tete, there’s the $52m sale in Paris, also in 2010.
In the case of both lots, the examples on offer this week are considered superior. And both works came to Sotheby’s through the kind of private negotiations between auction house experts and their clients. Simon Shaw and David Norman proudly pointed out that both works were secured without competition but through consultation on the timing of the market.
So will the prices be reset? And at what level?