Blue-chip names are fully priced for anything but the rarest works; but price appreciation continues for a number of under-represented artists.
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.)
The rumbling conclusion of the marquee May auctions last Thursday night revealed a mixed bag of interesting results, directional indicators and worrisome disappointments. The biggest theme in the market, rotation from one group of artists driving sales to another potentially rising to fill their place, continues.
And yet, even that conclusion is worthy of cautious qualification. Bloomberg’s James Tarmy astutely observed that the top of the market remained curiously stable:
More than anything, the pinnacle of the auction market is consistent. A year ago, the top 10 works at New York’s May sales totaled $587.4 million, and included a Double Elvis by Andy Warhol, a Van Gogh landscape, a Rothko color field, a painting of a woman by Picasso, and a work by Modigliani.
This year had the exact same list—a total of six artists made the top 10 year over year.
The only change was a modest increase in dollar amount. The May 2019 tally was up 3 percent.
Nevertheless, the theme of market rotation was undeniable in many instances. Phillips did well with its Pop-art heavy single-owner collection from the Fitermans but the estimates tended to be far more aspirational than providing market guidance to buyers. Along with Fiterman, Phillips did good business with Basquiat’s Self Portrait and Mark Bradford’s Helter Skelter II which sold for substantially less than its companion piece which was bought by The Broad.
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