This analysis of the November 2019 New York Impressionist and Modern sales is available to AMMpro subscribers. Monthly subscriptions begin with the first month free. Feel free to subscribe and cancel before you are billed.
The November sales of Impressionist and Modern art in New York were down substantially from the previous year—the combined Evening sales were down by a third from the $621m of November 2018—but the internal dynamics of the sales were substantially better. This paradox is a reminder that the headline numbers in an auction cycle are often dependent upon the top lots reaching a sufficient level.
In the November sales, only nine lots were sold for prices above $10m. The year before there were 19 lots above $10m. In 2018, the top ten lots totaled $245m; in 2019, that figure was $160m. The next ten lots in 2018 totaled $135m; in 2019, those next ten lots amounted to $76m. The far greater drop in value was seen in lots 11-20 than in lots 1-10.
If the top 20 lots in the 2019 sales were so much lower, the strength the sales came in their stronger sell-through rates, better hammer ratios and more day sale lots selling. In the Evening sales, there were virtually the same number of lots sold in 2019 as 2018; the day sales saw an increase in sold lots of nearly 12%.
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