Auction Sales

Bloomberg takes a quick look at the recent NY gigaweek sale and concludes the market is becoming more selective.  The article also questions if auction is now the best platform to sell important works. Many think a private sale is now the best option for moving important works.

It states "Overall, this week’s sales were a staggering $1.6 billion less than the total last year."

Bloomberg reports
It’s been a roller coaster ride of an auction “gigaweek” in New York, as Christie’s and Sotheby’s scrambled to scale back expectations in a subdued market, with mixed results. As the dust and dollars settle, though, there’s cause to be reasonably optimistic: “Overall it’s obviously a very sobering week,” said Patrick Legant, a London-based art adviser who was in New York for the sales. “It’s also reassuring, though, because you still had bidders out there, and a lot of people who are still interested in buying art. It’s just that they’re a bit more selective.”

And that might be the key. As auction houses try to phase out costly guarantees (in which the house or a third party guarantees a consignor in advance that an artwork will sell for a minimum amount), anecdotal evidence implies that rather than risk an artwork selling for a subpar price, or—more disastrously—not at all, people are turning to dealers to sell their works.

“At the moment, auctions don’t seem to be the place where you can take your best picture and get a good price,” said Legant. “We’re going through a period where if someone wants to sell an important work, they go through the more private route.”

That, along with volatile global markets, slumping hedge funds, and election-year jitters, might go a long way in explaining why the top 11 lots at New York’s spring auctions totaled a ho-hum $361,650,000 this year, which is close to what just two works sold for last May, when a Picasso painting went for $179.4 million and a sculpture by Giacometti fetched $141.3 million. Overall, this week’s sales were a staggering $1.6 billion less than the total last year.
Source: Bloomberg 

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