Upcoming Art Sales

The UKs Telegraph takes a quick look at some recent sales, many of which were modest as far as results go, and also takes a look at some of the upcoming lots for the New York contemporary sales. The upcoming sales have an estimate of around $1.3 billion, and as the Telegraph article points out, it sounds substantial but is about half of what was sold in 2015. As pointed out at the end of the article, things would be worse if the auction houses were not offering consignor guarantees. For the contemporary sales, there are 17 lots with estimates over $10 million.

The Telegraph reports
The modern and contemporary art market is under the spotlight as it reaches full throttle this month. A week of art fairs has just closed in New York. Reported sales were good, but not exceptional. At The European Fine Art Fair, TEFAF’s first outing in New York focussing on Modern art rather than Old Masters, there was a rush of sales on the first day – some of which were pre-sold, before the event opened. Among the top prices was a posthumous, 2003 polished bronze casting of Constantin Brancusi’s baby’s head, Le Nouveau Ne, which was sold by Paul Kasmin for around $4 million.

At Frieze, which opened the next day, the emphasis was less on the new than usual, appealing to a more conservative audience. One of the top sales was £1.2 million for a 1990 concave wall sculpture by Anish Kapoor. Europeans were less in evidence than hoped, said dealers, probably because European art fairs in Brussels, Cologne and Berlin had just closed and the must-attend Venice Biennale opens this week.

But before the Americans shot off to Europe for the Venice openings and to catch the prestigious Documenta exhibition in Germany and Greece, they had a chance to catch the first viewing days of New York’s major Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art sales, for which they will have to travel back next week.

On offer is an estimated $1.3 billion (£1 billion) of art, which sounds a lot, but is half the amount realised in dollars at the equivalent New York sales in 2015. But at least the estimate suggests a market that is going at a consistent rate. The equivalent sales last May made $1.1 billion, and last November, $1.3 billion. The instabilities associated with Donald Trump’s election have made no impact; if anything, although the art world detests his anti-liberalism and threats to public arts funding, his proposed income tax reductions would find favour with wealthy art buyers.

Putting the sales under the microscope, it is clear that the pendulum of supply continues to swing in favour of post-war and contemporary art, and that is where Christie’s has exerted maximum effort to hold off rival Sotheby’s which had clawed its way back into contention for market share after several years lagging behind.

Addressing the first point, the earlier Impressionist and Modern art sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s are reckoned to bring at least $452 million against the contemporary art sales which, including Phillips, should surpass $835 million. Nine works from the earlier category are in the $10 million plus category, led by a $35 million angst-ridden portrait by Picasso at Christie’s of his lover Dora Maar on the outbreak of the Second World War. Last time out, in 2011, this painting trebled estimates to sell for £18 million ($29 million). So did the buyer get carried away, or will they make a gain?

In the contemporary sales, by way of comparison, there are 17 $10 million-plus works. Leading the pack is an almost six-foot square portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat which has been guaranteed by Sotheby’s with a record-busting $60 million estimate. The painting was bought by American real estate developers, Emily and Jerry Spiegel, in 1984 for about $20,000, and is being sold by their descendants. At Christie’s, another branch of the Spiegel family is selling over $100 million of art, while Frenchman Pierre Lambrail is selling a small Francis Bacon triptych for $50 million in order to buy a theatre.

Among the higher estimated lots is a 1962 painting of a Campbell’s soup can by Andy Warhol with a $25 million estimate. Coming from the Cingillioglu family of Turkish bankers, who bought it for not much less in 2010 at $23 million, it has been guaranteed by Christie’s to sell, as have half the lots in the $370 million showcase evening auction.

Based on the lower pre-sale estimates, the accumulative value of the guarantees made either directly by Christie’s or by a third party, is $207 million, or 57 per cent of the value of the sale. In spite of the Basquiat, Sotheby’s trails with just $115 million of art guaranteed, or 54 per cent of its estimated $212 million sale.

Guarantees, which are made to persuade owners to sell, are clearly a key to market dominance. Just look at the lower value Impressionist and Modern art sales where the guarantee percentage-to-value ratios sink to 28 per cent at Sotheby’s and 34.5 per cent at Christie’s.  Without them, one shudders to think how thin these sales would be. 
Source: The Telegraph

No comments: