This Paris Spring 2018 Contemporary sales analysis 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.
The Paris Contemporary art sales were punctuated by some dramatic sales that drove the overall performance far above expectations. You can see from market share chart (above) provided by our friends at Live Auction Art that both Sotheby’s and Christie’s were able to exceed their pre-sale estimates by a significant margin. In both cases, the totals were helped by the performance of a single lot.
For Christie’s, that was Nicolas de Staël’s Flowers which made €8.25m or more than twice the low estimate. At Sotheby’s, the big lot was Kazuo Shiraga’s large and historically significant Takao which made more than four times the low estimate to reach €8.7m.
This analysis of the Spring 2018Paris Contemporary art sales results—including a look at market share by artist and a list of the most dynamic lots—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.
We will have a look at the historical sales numbers in Paris in another post. Here, let’s look at the composition of the Paris Post-War sales. Artcurial had a number of modern works in their sale which we have set aside so we can look at the Paris Post-War and Contemporary market.
Taken together the Paris sales were hugely successful. The hammer ratio, representing the level of the hammer total over the aggregate low estimate, was an extremely strong 1.54. Given that 19% of the lots failed to find buyers, that performance shows the Parisian Contemporary market is very strong. Nearly 50% of the sold lots went for prices above the high estimates. Fewer than 12% were sold for compromise prices. In fact, more sellers were willing to suffer their work being tarnished by a BI, 19%, than were ready to accept a price below their original expectations.
So both buyers and sellers in Paris are bullish on the Contemporary art market. Seven artists accounted for almost 56% of the total sales volume. Zao Wou-ki took price of place in the Paris market, which may come as a surprise to some, with 13.6% of sales. Nicolas de Staël’s big lot helped push him into second position with 12% of the market; a similar story explains Kazuo Shiraga’s 11.5% market share. More conventional French Contemporary art names like Pierre Soulages, 7.7%, Jean Dubuffet, 5.5%, Hans Hartung, 3.2%, and Simon Hantai, 2.4%, round out the list of artists with meaningful market share.
The list of the top 40 lots by value shows that bidding strength was at the very top of the market. And you can see the list of names populating the market share also dominate the top 40 lots with the interesting addition of Joan Mitchell, Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Wade Guyton and Joan Mitchell, even at a price below the low estimate.
The list of the 40 works that received the most aggressive bidding is diverse. Shiraga tops the list quickly followed by an Alberto Giacometti work priced in the low five figures that sold for six figures. Another de Staël has a prominent place on the list. It was offered at less than €1m and sold for more than €2m. Zao Wou-ki has three works on this list. And Kazuo Shiraga had another work that contributed to his overall market share showing the painting that led the cycle was not the only Shiraga generating interest in Paris.