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October 17, 2006

Are things about to "Slow" in the Contemporary Art World?

David_wojnaowicz_buffalo Here's a review of the recent London Contemporary Art Auctions by Lina Sandler at Bloomberg News.

It sounds like these auctions didn't go very well, work by Neo Rauch went unsold, GASP! And works by Bill Viola and Martin Kippenberger sold BELOW their pre-sale estimates. OUCH! (Photo by David Wojnarowicz)

Here's the full story :

Download Fall06_LondonContemporarySales.txt

Today starts all the big Fall NYC Photography sales.. And while there are no lots expected to break last springs REFCO auction and the shocking $2.9 Million Steichen photo records. There are tons of high priced works going onto the auction block this week. We'll see how they go.


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I don't think things are slowing in the contemporary art world - witness the fact that over 90% of the Part I auctions in London were sold. The issue here is that items like the Kippenberger and Viola had lower estimates 3-5 years ago that would have encouraged more ferocious bidding amongst interested parties. But the estimates have now risen to the point that only very serious bidders are involved, and there is very little room for items to exceed their estimates. Artworks are still selling well assuming the quality is good and the estimates are reasonable, but it appeared that things had slowed slightly in London last week, when in reality all that had happened was valuations and estimates of the artworks have risen considerably in the recent past couple of years and can't really go much higher (for now).

Perusing the recent Contemporary sale results on ArtNet:

Sotheby's London: Day 10/16 - 36/208 lots = 17% bought in
Christie's London: 10/15 -9/65 lots = 13.8% bought in
Christie's London: (Harlap Collection)10/15 -3/35 lots = 8.6% bought in
Phillips, de Pury & Co:10/14 -5/72 lots = 3.9% bought in
Sotheby's New York: 10/11-85/388 lots = 22% bought in

Looks like the market has reached a permanently high plateau

Don't have to necessarily look at it negatively. (Unless you're looking to unload millions) Could be a buyers market coming. Might be able to get some choice prints without having to pay absurd prices. And at this point I don't/wouldn't buy anything unless you can get a pretty good price. It's not as though you can't live without any of this stuff. I might avoid buying stuff for the sole purpose of flipping though.

I'm not that negative on the market, it just seems like it has flattened out somewhat.

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