Bloomberg did a tally of the top ten lots across all houses last year and this year:
Last year, the top 10 lots totaled $678.8 million; this year, it was about a half of that, totaling just $378.75 million.
Although much of the market chatter says the best works are being kept off of the market, these numbers don’t entirely bear that out. Unless, by ‘best’ works the specialists mean great examples of artist’s work that would sell between $5 and $30m.
For this just completed cycle, the market is down 45% from $2.3bn to $1.3bn in sales. The top ten works are only down 44%.
Removing last year’s $180m Picasso’s Femmes d’Algiers and Giacometti’s $120m Pointing Man accounts for most of the drop in the top ten works.
The day sales are down much less ~30%. So the big culprit is the top works that are not the extraordinary nine-figure lots.
These 10 Paintings Just Sold for $378.75 Million (Bloomberg)