This detailed analysis of the December Contemporary art sales in Paris was made possible with data from our friends at Live Auction Art. It is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscriptions begin with a free month for the curious.
The Paris Contemporary art sales showed consistent strength this December even after the blowout results of last June when the combined sales reached €94m. The December sales were almost half that value at $47.5m reflecting not a decline in the Paris market so much as a return to the normal volumes.
On a percentage basis, the Parisian Contemporary art sales were in line on sell-through rates at around 80%. The top ten lots totaled €20m a number very similar to the top ten lots sold in June of 2017. Though in these sales, that €20m accounted for a much higher 42.5% of the overall value of the sales.
Perhaps most significantly, the average lot value for Contemporary art sold in Paris was €114k, a number lower that either in June of this year or June of last year.
Among the 79% of the lots that found buyers, the bulk (47%) were sold at prices within the estimate range. Only 36% of the sold lots made prices above the high estimate. A much smaller minority, 16%, were sold at prices below the seller’s hopes and expectations.
The market share numbers reveal an interesting range of artists. Zao Wou-ki was the clear leader with more than 13% of the Euros spent in the Paris Contemporary art sales. Jean-Paul Riopelle followed behind with 10% and Pierre Soulages made 8% of the Euro volume in the sales. The next three artists are all clustered around 5% share.
Those artists are Serge Poliakoff, Simon Hantai and the Gutai star, Kazuo Shiraga. After that, a gap forms to Hans Hartung and Gerhard Richter who both have approximately 2% market share. Global artists Fontana, Warhol and Dubuffet round out the top names selling Paris.
These 12 artists attracted 58% of the Euros spent in Paris.Turning to the top lots sold in Paris, we can see the preponderance of lots were sold for competitive prices above the estimate range. A small cluster of five works in the €500-750k range were disappointments to their consignors but, presumably, happy acquisitions by their new owners. Jean-Paul Riopelle’s Forestine was the top lot. Three of the top ten works were by Zao Wou-ki which is more of a testament to the depth of holdings still in France despite the aggressive buying of Chinese collectors for several years now.
Among the most competitive lots, the list is skewed heavily toward the lower estimate ranges. One has to go nearly half way down the list to find a dynamic lot that was estimated over €100k on the low side. Only one work, a Zao Wou-ki painting from 2001 was even bid beyond €500k.