This detailed analysis of the February Mid-Season Contemporary art sales in New York 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 Mid-Season Contemporary auctions held in New York to fall between the ADAA Art Show and the Armory Show showed a substantial jump this Winter over last year's results. The combined sales at Sotheby's, Phillips and Christie's was $63m (excluding nearly $4m from Sotheby's fundraising sale for Miss Porter's School in Connecticut) this year over $53m for the same sales last year.
Just two paintings at Sotheby's—Jack Whitten's Special Checking and Kerry James Marshall's Untitled (Painter)—account for the entire increase in one year to the next. But that isn't the entire story. In 2018, there were almost 900 works on offer at the three houses. During that sales cycle, 82% of the lots sold. This February, 80% of the lots sold but number offered was off by a quarter down to 666 from 895 in 2018.
Although the number of works offered and sold were down, the average price per work was $117,119 in 2019 versus $72,141 in 2018. Even if we remove the two top lots, the average price in 2019 remains a very high $98.9m.
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