This analysis of the Peter Halley’s auction sales results—made possible with data from Live Auction Art—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.
It’s been a big year for Peter Halley’s market and it’s still only April. The painter’s Yellow Cell with Triple Conduit was sold in London for a record price in early March. That sale came as part of a spate of solid sales in the London Contemporary art auctions.
A few weeks later, in early April, a work estimated at £50k, Breakdown (above) sold for three times that price to make £150k with premium. All together, Halley’s work has totaled $1.6m so far this year putting his auction volume near all of 2017 with much of the selling season left to come.
This kind of excitement isn’t entirely new to Halley’s market. And the timing of his previous market spikes is worth noting.
Yellow Cell with Triple Conduit (1986) was offered for a low estimate of £250k and sold for £513k with premium or $712k, a record price far outstripping the artist’s previous prices. Indeed, the next highest price for Halley was achieved in 2008 during the May sales which marked the peak of the Contemporary market in the previous cycle. Then, Halley’s Dream Game (1994) was offered fro $90k and sold for $457k.
It took nearly 10 years from that record sale before Halley’s work achieved a similar price. In October of last year, The Place (1992) made $450k when the work was offered in London for £120k and sold at £344k with premium.
That suggests Halley’s market is strong as near-record price confirmed demand and was followed a few months later with a new record price at a substantial step up.
Unfortunately, throughout his market history, Halley’s work has peaked and retreated. Among the works sold for top prices there are a several that have come back to market only to tread water or make a slight loss. In 1999, a group of four canvases with the title River’s Edge (1990) was sold for $167,500; a decade later it came to the auction block again and made $158k.
Something similar happened with Soul Control (1991) over a half-decade’s span. In 2005, the work was sold for $79k. Five years later, another buyer paid $81k hardly covering the costs of selling let alone carrying the work.
In the recent London sales in March, all of the Halley works on offer sold, including the new record holder. But the second most valuable work, Todd (1991) was sold at a loss. It too previously sold in May of 2008 at the market’s height for $241k. In London, the dollar equivalent was $225k, another loss before fees are even factored in.
Even with that taken into account, the London sales in March show real demand for Halley’s work up and down the price spectrum. The mid-season sale of Breakdown slots in at the bottom of this chart above the estimate range.
So while there may be a number of Halley owners out there looking to get their money out of purchases made a decade ago, most of the returns seem to be going to early work that’s not been auctioned before.