Sotheby’s has postponed their May live sales of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art (including the marquee Evening sales) and announced a series of online Contemporary Art and Impressionist and Modern Art Day sales in their place that will each run between May 4 to mid-May.
The upcoming online Day Sales will comprise works by modern and contemporary artists that have historically driven the day sale market. Additionally, Sotheby’s will add another online sale of Post-Impressionist paintings to the spring online sale calendar which will open on April 23rd.
Among the highlights in the contemporary category include Richard Prince’s 1987 three-part acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas titled 3 Jokes Painted to Death or 3 Jokes Really Painted estimated between $500-700,000.
Sotheby’s Head Day Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York, Scott Niichel, confirmed that the offerings in the forthcoming online sales will “be anchored by the same top-quality, exciting selection of works by sought-after artists of the 19th through the 21st centuries.” Emphasizing the necessity in engaging with clients through these rapid changes to the sales schedule, Niichel remarked “we are still actively – and responsibly – sourcing for these auctions, and encourage collectors to start a dialogue with us about how we can best meet their needs.”
Part of the initiative to further develop digital sale offerings comes with the imperative to both retain its top sector buying base, and to attract new collectors who are becoming increasingly savvy to virtual transaction. Max Moore, Co-Head of Sotheby’s New York Day Auctions of Contemporary Art remains optimistic that the online series will meet demand for these higher priced works, saying “our global clientele has an extensive and demonstrated history of transacting at elevated price points in our live sales.”
In previous announcements the house noted its extensive investment in digital technology to expand online collecting. With confidence that the higher price echelon of the Day sale segment will remain active online, Moore noted that “in 2019 for example, more than half of the thousands of bidders in our Contemporary Art auctions placed their bids online.” With plans also to the release a new e-catalogue design coinciding with each of their future sales across the business, Sotheby’s hopes to attend to the expanding digital collecting approach.
Reporting an excess of $35 million achieved in its 2020 online sales so far across various sale categories which include Modern and Contemporary African Art, 20th Century Middle Eastern Art, 20th Century Design, and Photographs, the house is seeing a solid level of bidding that negates notions throughout the industry that the market has slowed. Another one of Sotheby’s representatives, Nicole Schloss, New York’s Co-Head of Day Auctions of Contemporary Art noted that this continuous participation by collectors online is “driving results that demonstrate the resilience of the global art market.”
The announcement of a new set of day sales featuring top-tier works is a big change for the seasonal market schedule with larger implications for movement to the global schedule in the fall. Sotheby’s has yet to confirm plans for its postponed live New York Evening and Day auctions of modern, contemporary and American art initially scheduled for May.