Colin Gleadell points out that many works re-sold at the Impressionist and Modern sales last week made higher prices. In fact, much of the loss making was caused by over-enthusiastic buyers just a few short years ago.
Generally, though, such losses were the results of previous excessive spending. Other, wiser buys, especially over the longer term, demonstrated that, while the sale totals had gone down, individual prices had not. Egon Schiele’s 1909 self-portrait, which had been bought in 2007 for £4.5 million, sold for £7.2 million. A painting by Leger that fetched £460,000 in 1992 sold for £5.2 million, equivalent to an average gain of 11.1 per cent for each of the intervening years. A romantic painting by Chagall did even better selling for £7 million, the equivalent to a 12.4 per cent average annual gain since it was acquired 24 years ago.
There was a similar, roller-coaster pattern at Sotheby’s. […] But the majority of works that had been at auction before made more second time around. A Signac bought in Paris in 2008 for €1.1 million sold for £2 million (€2.7 million), and a Magritte, bought in London in 2006 for £400,000 sold for £785,000. […]Other surrealist records were set for a sculpture by Man Ray and a watercolour by Dali.