The Wall Street Journal seems to be having trouble making sense of how the art market works. Overly fixated on the highest priced works, the paper worries that the London sale don’t have enough big-ticket items. Yet there’s been ample evidence over the last two years that the market has shifted toward lower-priced works from a few hundred thousand to a few million by undervalued historical masters and some emerging artists. Rather than seeing this shift as a sign of weakness, it should be viewed as a measure of the market’s health and sustainability.
The Journal gets around to a version of this point in due course:
art trophies are thin in this round, raising questions about the health of high-end art, specifically the $50-million-plus pictures that typically dominate sales during a market upswing and disappear during a downturn. The art market has been surging since spring, so trophies would typically be packing the catalogs by now.
Dealers said sellers might be waiting to put their best pieces in the higher-stake New York sales in November. The auction houses said they’re also learning that younger collectors want more art options at “much lower prices,” Ms. Arnold said. Moreover, auctioneers said they’re trying not to get ahead of themselves—or the market—by placing overly high prices on everything until buyers feel ready to absorb them. “We need to play to all types of buyers, not just billionaires,” she added.