For the most part, the Contemporary art sales held in Milan at Sotheby’s and Christie’s as the end of April and beginning of May featured strong performances by the stalwarts of Italian Contemporary art, Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani, Alighiero Boetti, Alberto Burri, and Giorgio Morandi. But the big stars of the sales were two works by Josef Albers that sold well above their estimates at Sotheby’s.
Overall, the sales were workman like with a hammer ratio in the middle of the estimate range and a combined sell-through rate a healthy 85%. Nearly a third of the lots sold above the estimates. The top ten lots accounted for the same percentage of the sale too. The average price of a lot in the combined sales was a very healthy €142k.
Among the top lots, shown below, a third out-performed estimates. This suggests the Milan Contemporary market as a whole is selective in the same ratio as the top of the market. In other words, there’s no surge toward certain artists nor is there a sense that the estimates on the most obviously valuable works are being pushed too far (or that buyers are rebelling against those estimates.)
The most dynamic lots (that is, the lots with the highest hammer ratio) came from a broad range of artists and at an interesting array of price points.
Finally, the dominant names in Italian Contemporary art, the ones with the most works on offer, showed a fairly even array of sales outcomes.
Here are the Boetti lots arranged from highest price paid to lowest:
The Fontana lots show a bias toward the lower priced lots where buyers are looking for value:
Mario Schifano’s work showed weakness against estimates:
As did Castellani, except at the very top: