As expected, the auction reserves were too high, and the buyers were all too scared.
Very few lots reached even the low end of their presale estimates.. so the fall begins.
Here's an initial story from Lindsay Pollock and Phillip Boroff of Bloomberg news... we're sure there's going to be many more!
(Since MAO as been worrying about thinking of all our friends at Paris Photo this week.... we choose... Photo #1, Train Wreck at Gare Montparnasse, Paris France, 1895)
Eli Broad Goes Shopping as Sotheby's Art Auction Falls Short
2008-11-12 06:39:27.760 GMT By Lindsay Pollock and Philip Boroff
Nov. 12 (Bloomberg)
Eli Broad and fashion designer Valentino were among the collectors who converged on Sotheby's in New York last night to pick through big-name contemporary art at discount prices.
``It's a half-price sale,'' said Broad, a 75-year-old billionaire who predicted for years that prices would fall. ``Things are a little more reasonable.'' Broad snagged Ed Ruscha's 1969 mustard-hued ``Desire'' fo $2.4 million, 40 percent under the $4 million low estimate.
The 43 lots that sold in the 63-lot auction totaled $125.1 million, far below the presale low estimate of $202.4 million.
Twenty lots, or 32 percent, failed to sell, including several tagged with hefty estimates guaranteed by the auction house.
It was the lowest selling rate for a multiple-owner evening sale of contemporary art at Sotheby's since November 1994.
Sotheby's comparable auction in May totaled $362 million, almost three times last night's tally.
Even so, after last week's main impressionist sale at Sotheby's sold 64 percent of lots, dealers were relieved.
``It wasn't so bad,'' said Marc Glimcher of PaceWildenstein. ``That's the overwhelming feeling.''
The evening got off to a strong start. John Currin's 1999 ``Nice `N Easy,'' depicting two nude young women, went to an anonymous telephone bidder for a record $5.46 million. The seller was Los Angeles television executive Dean Valentine. Currin's previous auction record of $847,500 was set at Christie's International four years ago with a painting of two men making pasta.
The evening's marquee lot, Roy Lichtenstein's 1963 ``Half Face With Collar,'' attracted no bids. The archetypical pop-art painting, featuring a businessman tugging at his collar, sported a $15 million to $20 million presale estimate.
Broad gave paddle No. 434 a workout, buying a large orange Donald Judd aluminum and Plexiglas sculpture for $1.1 million and a small Robert Rauschenberg painting for $2.6 million. For the Broad Art Foundation, he bought Ruscha's ``Desire'' and a gaudy Jeff Koons sculpture for $2.2 million.
Prices include a buyer's premium, or commission, of 25 percent of the hammer price up to $50,000, 20 percent of the price from $50,000 to $1 million and 12 percent above $1 million.
Estimates do not include commissions.
The tanned front-row fixture Valentino Garavani scored two Andy Warhol paintings and a Joan Mitchell canvas with little competition, after being outbid during the frothy May sales. Gap Inc. founder Donald G. Fisher bought a glossy Gerhard Richter for less than the low estimate. Actor Steve Martin and Blackstone Group Vice Chairman J. Tomilson Hill III were among the collectors witnessing how the contemporary art market held up after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 39 percent this year.
Christie's holds its contemporary auction tonight, featuring Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard S. Fuld Jr.'s drawing collection, estimated to bring in about $20 million. Works by younger artists go under the hammer on Nov. 13 at Phillips de Pury & Co.
Last night's top lot was French painter Yves Klein's 1960 blue, roughly surfaced, 6 1/2-foot-tall ``Archisponge (RE11)'' which has 13 sponges and dozens of pebbles affixed to the canvas.
It sold for $21.4 million, below its $25 million estimate, to an anonymous phone bidder.
Museum of Modern Art trustee Donald L. Bryant Jr. sold Philip Guston's 1954-55 flesh-toned ``Beggar's Joy'' for $10.2 million, almost a third below its $15 million estimate. He'd paid $1.6 million in 1996 at Sotheby's in New York. According to the catalog, the seller was given a guaranteed minimum price.
Sotheby's anticipated that the auction would not sell a number of lots. As in last week's impressionist auctions, sellers locked in guarantees months earlier. Last week, Sotheby's projected in its third-quarter earnings statement that it would book $17 million in losses from guarantees to sellers at this week's contemporary sale.
Demand for recently fashionable artists such as Richard Prince, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami thinned. ``It's a buyer's market,'' said Josh Baer, publisher of the Baer Faxt, an art market newsletter.
--Editors: Stephen West, Le-Min Lim.