Athena Art Finance has released their overview of the London sales cycle of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art. These charts provide a fair amount of information about the horse race between auction houses as a newly aggressive Sotheby’s has demonstrated its ability to hold sales that project market confidence with high sell-through rates and solid prices achieved relative to estimates.
What do these charts tell us?
- Overall, Sotheby’s had the strongest performance this cycle measured in gross sales (see Hammer Price Totals, upper right) as well as the overall number of lots (see Number of Lots, middle right.)
- Perhaps more important to consignors, Sotheby’s led in the number of lots that sold above the estimate range in both the day and evening sales. (see Perf v Est, middle left.)
- Sotheby’s didn’t walk away with all of the bragging rights. Christie’s had a slightly better sell through rate across all sales at 79% (see Sell Through Rate, upper left.)
- Christie’s was also able to much better than the other houses in getting works sold within the estimate range during the Evening sales. (see Perf v Est, middle left.)
- That kind of superior sale management at Christie’s was also seen in their having the lowest percentage of works bought in during the day and evening sales (see Perf v Est, middle left.) Clearly Christie’s is hustling to make that sell-through rate happen.
- Although Phillips did not win any of these categories, the firm continues to make gains broadening its sales base and performance.
- Buried deep in these figures is the final point to make. As the art market moves away from the highest value properties, Sotheby’s was able to generate the greatest number of lots in highly profitable sales range between £100k and £1m (see Lot Price Distribution, bottom.)