The over-arching concern about the Contemporary art sales in London this week was whether Christie's departure would destabilize the market. The preliminary answer based upon last night's £62.3m sales at Sotheby's is that June in London remains a good time to sell art.
Sotheby's got buyers for almost all of their works. Some of the sales were effectuated through the use of guarantees and irrevocable bids. Others were the product of good staff work landing buyers for works that might have fallen back to the trade in after auction sales. They even cleared some previously guaranteed inventory even if it required taking a loss. Demand remains relatively high after strong May sales in New York, stronger sales at Art Basel in Switzerland and the prospect of bigger sales in London in October.
Anny Shaw got one London dealer's take:
“If it had been business as usual, [Sotheby’s] may have been able to extract the larger ticket items from consignors,” he said.
Tiroche described the sale as “tight and solid”, but revealed Sotheby’s and Christie's had struggled with consignments with around two weeks to go before their deadlines. “Lots of material had to be scrambled from dealers,” he said.
The most prominent work of the evening was not the most valuable. But Sotheby's is making a PR push with the Warhol sale to make a point that Christie's sat out a solid opportunity to make sales. Here's Judd Tully on the sale of Andy Warhol's first series of self portraits:
Guaranteed with an irrevocable bid, it received one bid from Turkish collector Kemal Cingillioglu (the guarantor?) before selling to a telephone bidder for £6 million ($7.7 million).
Collector might not be the most appropriate description of Cingillioglu who is a frequent buyer or guarantor and eventual seller or supplier to the auctions. Perhaps he is better called a collector/dealer or, even better, a permanent market participant (PMP).
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