Western Art Slump?

The Reno Gazette Journal has a review of the recent Coeur d'Alene Art Auction held at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.  The sale totaled $8.5 million (compared to $39 million in 2008, a decline of 80% in total value).  The top selling lot was an oil painting by Eanger Irving Couse, which sold for $650,000. Coeur d'Alene Art Auction partner Peter Stremmel stated the painting would have sold for $3-$4 million several years ago. That is a rather drastic decline in potential value in a very short period of time. The sale offered about 300 lots, and approximately 15% were bought in.

The RGJ reports
Stremmel said he was pleased with the results but said the economy has affected fine art.

"Art is a luxury, and it's not something people who are in foreclosure are going to think about," he said.

He said art never ceases to surprise, and pieces he thought might sell for higher went lower, and vice versa.

He said the Henry Merwin Shrady's bronze bull moose sold for $75,000, almost three times its highest appraisal and oil painting "Fierce Indian" by Fritz Scholder sold for almost twice what he expected.

Last year, a Mian Situ oil painting, "Moving on the Yuba River -- Gold Seekers," sold for $350,000. On Saturday it sold for $100,000.

He said the turnout was good, with about 400 in-person, 200 phone, 50 Internet and 40 absentee bidders from around the country.

It was the first time the auction allowed Internet bidding, which accounted for about 12 bids this year.

"There are definitely bidders, but they are more cautious," he said.

David Walker, executive director of the Nevada Museum of Art, was on a mission Saturday.

He was the winning bidder with $35,000 for "Trail Drive," a piece by American artist Dale Nichols.

"It's always exciting," said Walker, who only bid on the one piece for the museum's E.L. Wiegand Work Ethic Collection with funds from the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.

"I had a limit of $35,000, so I got it for exactly what I wanted," he said. "This acquisition is a wonderful addition to this unique permanent collection of artworks that celebrate the work ethic in America."
To read the full RGJ article click HERE.

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