This recap of Christie’s Impressionist-Modern and Surrealist Evening sale in London is available to AMMpro subscribers. Monthly subscriptions begin with the first month free. Feel free to subscribe and cancel before you are billed.
Christie’s Evening sales of Impressionist and Modern art as well as Surrealist art last night were a success by the numbers. The combined sales made £149.5m which was £13m more than the same sales a year before. If you are looking to those numbers to give you some sense of market direction or mood for what Christie’s now calls the 20th Century art market, you ought to look elsewhere. The sales were punctuated with lots that were avidly pursued though price levels proved important. Estimates over £5m saw light bidding and after many seasons where the auction houses have actively managed their sales to present high sell-through rates, Christie’s ran two large sales last night that they were more than willing to let ‘sell-through’ at only 78% of the works. Make no mistake, 78% is traditionally a solid, very business-like sale result. Only in the last few years of hyper-competition (with the added sense that the Impressionist and Modern market needed to project stability,) have the the sell-through rates consistently posted in the high 80s or low 90s.
We will have a more detailed analysis of the lot-by-lot sales in the next two weeks. For now, here are some impressions.