Market breathes sigh of relief as diversity comes in many forms—geographic, national and price—to the art market. to the artThis 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.)
Christie’s Lancaster Sale = £23m ($28.2m)A rather unlikely art collection assembled by a relatively unknown British plumbing-supply king ended up providing a great deal of relief for market watchers with frazzled nerves last night. Christie’s held the first sale of Frieze week on the eve of the fair’s preview. The results gave everyone a chance to settle down and focus on selling art instead of worrying about the art market. At £23m, the sale total came in toward the high end of the pre-sale estimates of £14-19m when the buyer’s premium is taken into account. More to the point, a smattering of international artists proved there was demand in the middle reaches and it would manifest itself in sales that are not glitzy events. Just prior to the sale, any result seemed possible as many market participants have begun to express trepidation about each new cycle. Although the mid-season results in New York were up year-over-year, there were concerns about the sell-through rates in those auctions and the depth of bidding. But those were off-season events, a mere amuse bouche for the Fall selling season. The Lancaster sale was still a warm-up but even the Frieze sales later in the week are increasingly viewed by the international art market as being pre-cursors to the main event in New York next month. Some auction house personnel worry that consignors are now too focused on selling in New York (whether that is a comment on the fragile political/macro-economic situation in London or the centripedal power of New York’s tent pole sales in May and November isn’t clear.) Other collectors are concerned about the overall churn in expertise and a market that is increasingly comfortable transacting in private.
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