London ImpMod and Contemporary Sales

Over the next two weeks we should get strong indications if the market for Impressionist and Modern as well as contemporary art gains momentum or falls back. The last group of sales in NY were considered good by many, but overall the sales seemed average at best without any true breakouts at the top of the sector which can typically build excitement, bring multiples of pre sale estimates and drive the marketplace.

Kelly Crow previews the sales and states that many collectors are active sellers at the moment. This typically means the market is strong, as sellers of quality art will usually hold back if the market is considered soft.  Crow mentions that Christie's Tuesday evening sale is offering 92 lots, far above the norm of 50 or so.  The Christie's ImpMod sale will include Nymphéas by Claude Monet, estimate to sell between $27.4 million and $38.6 million (see image).

It will be interesting to see if the group of London sales are strong, or if there are numerous bought in lots given the amount of going under the hammer.  A few days ago I posted the Art Research Technology Focus, which was not at all bullish on the upcoming sales.  Click HERE to read a summary of the ART report.

Crow reports on the sales in the Wall Street Journal.

One group isn't slowing down: sellers. During the recession, collectors who weren't desperate for cash held onto their art trophies, which resulted in thin auction catalogs and fevered bidding over the few masterpieces on offer. But now confidence (and catalog thickness) is increasing. Christie's Tuesday evening sale contains 92 pieces, up from a typical 50. The offerings include artists who aren't exactly household names, like Belarusian sculptor Ossip Zadkine and Belgian neo-Impressionist Théo van Rysselberghe.

The latest roster of sellers includes Christian Duerckheim-Ketelhodt, a German industrialist selling nearly 60 pieces of postwar art—including Sigmar Polke's 1967 "Jungle"—at Sotheby's for at least $53 million combined. Kay Saatchi, the ex-wife of British ad executive Charles Saatchi, is also selling off 31 pieces of contemporary art at Christie's.

Elsewhere in these sales, the University of Sydney is offering its 1935 Pablo Picasso, "Young Girl Sleeping," for at least $14.6 million at Christie's. The school says it plans to put any proceeds into scientific research. New York's Museum of Modern Art is joining in with its Jean Arp globby gold sculpture from 1957, "Evocation of a Human Form, Lunar Spectral," for at least $1.3 million at Sotheby's. The museum says it will use the funds to buy more art.

Despite all the discretionary selling, art-market experts say the real juggernaut of these sales will likely be the estate of Ernst Beyeler, a Swiss dealer who co-founded the Art Basel fair in 1970 and later created a private museum for his collection in Riehen. On Tuesday, Christie's will begin selling off 110 pieces Mr. Beyeler kept at home or in his gallery, led by Claude Monet's "Water Lilies," a 1914-17 work that's priced to sell for at least $26 million. Other Beyeler pieces include Picasso's "Bust of Françoise," priced to sell for at least $11 million.
To read the full WSJ article, click HERE.

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