Does it matter that women artists are guaranteed far less than men? Maezawa sells some low value works; David Martinez sells some higher value ones; Sotheby's wrangles Bouguereau into its HQ..
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Is 47% of Next Week’s Sale Guaranteed?
The Financial Times picks up on a report from Arttactic that examines the guarantees in major sales over the last four years from 2015 to 2018. The report says that nearly half of the value of next week’s Contemporary Evening sales or $361m has been guaranteed. According to Arttactic, this is up from 39% in in 2016 but down from 58% in all of 2018.
It should be pointed out that the guarantees represent a percentage of the value, not the lots. By lot, the guarantees are closer to a third or a quarter of the works on offer. Arttactic suggests the guarantees are some sort of a dark force in the art market representing, “an invisible hand in driving the direction and sales levels of the market.”
There’s a good argument to be made for the opposite view. Guarantees are a form of transparency. Given the huge volume of art being sold in New York next week, it is safe to assume that a large number of the works being sold with guarantees would trade hands privately were it not for the guarantor giving the seller the option of attracting a higher bid. If, as has been the case in many instances in recent years, the guaranteed works sell to to those offering the early backing, we can assume that privately negotiated price was the right one and would never have been recorded publicly in an earlier era.
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