This 12-year look at London’s Spring Impressionist & Modern Evening sales 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.
This June there are a few works, valued at approximately $100m, in the Impressionist & Modern London Evening sales that are offered with Estimate Upon Request. That’s a common feature of these sales over the last three years, as data from our friends at Pi-eX shows. Ever since the June 2016 Evening sales, there has been a substantial portion of the sales value offered with the flexibility of an unpublished estimate.
That allows the sales teams at the auction houses to gauge the market in the days and weeks leading up to the sale and transmit what they learn back to the consignors or guarantors who will have to make a final decision about when, how, and at what level to sell.
The strategy helped the sales regain momentum after a significant lull in 2016. As you can see from Pi-eX’s chart above, 2017 finally pushed the Evening sales total (on a hammer price basis) past the 2010 high-water mark. The aggregate value of the catalogued lots this year is lower this year than it was last year. So overall sales totals are unlikely to advance this year unless there’s very strong bidding.
The charts of the overall performance against estimates over the last 11 years and the average performance against estimates shows that the low estimate range is a good guide for these sales with the overall totals being “saved” by the addition of the un-estimated works.
What could this indicate? The Impressionist and Modern market continues to move in two directions at once. The best works are getting much more valuable. The remaining works are losing traction with buyers.