This analysis of Bernard Buffet’s most recent sales results in London—including a comparison of his sales from November in New York to London in March—is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscribers get the first month free on monthly subscriptions. Feel free to cancel at any time before the month is up. Sign up for AMMpro here.
Judging from the sales in London last month, Bernard Buffet’s market is picking up. With a new show opening at Adam Lindeman’s Venus Over Manhattan gallery following a major retrospective put on in Paris last year, the interest in Buffet’s work should not be terribly surprising. But the ways in which the market intensified between the marquee sales in New York and the next cycle in London in late February and early March.
The London sales had half as many lots as were on offer in New York but nearly equal sales. More important, the bidding in London was more intense, the sell through more complete, and the prices, on the whole, were higher.
Some of this is surely a product of the selection and quality of works on offer. But artist’s markets are responsive with works coming to the block based upon the previous sales cycle’s success (or failure.) Although the period between November in New York and London in the Winter of 2017 was a short span comprising only 21 works, the numbers are indicative of the current state of the Buffet market.
In London, seven works were offered. All but one sold above the estimate range but every one of the lots found a buyer. Taken as a whole, the aggregate low estimate was £477k and the aggregate hammer price was £744k for a very strong hammer ratio of 1.56.
In London, the top lot (£233k), a landscape of Versailles, was the work with the highest estimate but the only one to sell within the estimate range. In general, bidding intensified as the estimate level dropped. Although the second highest lot, the landscape above was among the more contested lots and it sold for £209k.
Of the 20 works offered in New York and London, 17 sold. A little more than half of those 17 works sold for $100k or more. The chart below shows the distribution of those 17 lots by price and hammer ratio. The works on the right of the estimate band are lots bid upon aggressively.
One can see that the intensity of the bidding rise as the price drops with the most contested lot at the lower right of the chart. But something interesting happens when we separate the two sales cycles.
The chart below shows the way that the Buffet market migrated in London to higher value works that attracted more bidders who were willing to fight for the works. The green squares are sales made in London; the brown circles were made in New York.
Again, this may reflect the quality of works as much as it does increasing interest from bidders. Nonetheless, the London sales showed bidders willing to push to the highest hammer ratio of three times the low estimate as well as higher prices.
That trend was particularly identifiable in the five lots circled in red below. There you can see all five lots bid above the estimate range. The three works in the center display a new comfort level with ~$200k as a price point.
In New York, one particular work had to be bid very aggressively to reach that price. In London, three works were bid to that threshold or above.
A further look at the pricing and bidding shows that although the size of a Buffet canvas matters—and surely subject matter—there’s little pricing or bidding preference for works from a particular era.
These charts show price by the date the work was made and bidding as well.
In neither case is there a clear preference for date. Though it is important to remember that Buffet was a prolific artist and the 20 works graphed here a tiny sliver of his output.