Postwar and Contemporary Market Stays Strong with Record-breaking ResultsThe Art Dossier on November 11, 2011 with 0 Comments
You have probably heard by now about the success both Christie’s and Sotheby’s experienced this week with their Postwar and Contemporary evening Sales. Both sales are giving hope to skeptics who felt disheartened with the previous week’s more shaky Impressionist and Modern sales where Christie’s, as reported by Artinfo’s Judd Tully, took in an “anemic” $141 million, while Sotheby’s soared to a robust $200 million.
This week proved to be much more fruitful for both parties. Christie’s Contemporary Art Sale set record upon record bringing in a total of $248 million with highlights including a very rare piece from Roy Lichtenstein from 1961 that went for a record-breaking $43,220,500.00. 33 of the 82 lots that sold made over a million dollars and of that four exceeded $10 million.
Similar to the Phillips de Pury evening sale on Monday, Christie’s had numerous third-party guarantees on 10 of the most expensive lots, as well as six straight-out guarantees from their own pocket, assuring works would sell no matter what the reception. But unlike Phillips guarantees or not, Christie’s sold.
Meanwhile over at Sotheyby’s things were looking just as hot, where the auction house pulled off a $315,837,000 coup, its third-highest tally for a contemporary evening sale. Eleven of the 73 lots offered failed to sell for a trim buy-in rate by lot of 15 percent and five percent by value. Forty-four of the 62 lots that sold made over a million dollars, and of those seven fetched over $14 million, including three by Gerhard Richter and three by Clyfford Still. A painting by Francis Bacon also leapt the million-dollar mark.
Spirits were so high and buyers were buying up so much that even charity auctions were selling out to packed houses. As Artinfo reported, “Leave it to Takashi Murakami to pack the Christie’s salesroom at 9:30 a.m. in the morning — and in doing so raise over $8,756,100 million from the likes of François Pinault, the auction house’s owner, and megadealer Larry Gagosian. Murakami’s “New Day: Artists for Japan” charity sale was held Wednesday morning to benefit those affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of Japan off the coast of Tohoku. Though Murakami and Christie’s chose the earliest time slot available in New York so that bidders watching the online broadcast in Asia could participate, collectors and dealers in town for the contemporary sales trickled into the salesroom — along with a slew of fans looking for the chance at a photo with Murakami — until it was standing-room-only.”
What does this mean to the rest of the art market? Is the Impressionist market dead? Sotheby’s proved not, but the Post-war and Contemporary markets seem to be where all the action is despite uncertain financial climates. Could it also be that the pieces available this year were exceptionally rare and tailored to the upper-end of the big collector ladder? Maybe so, but that is what business strategies are all about at these auction houses and it seemed that this week their strategies and gambles paid off.
“I Can See the Whole Room… And There’s Nobody In It!” by Roy Lichtenstein, 1961. Image via Christie’s.