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February 12, 2009

The Christies Contemporary Art Sale in London...goes as Expected

The Christies Contemporary Art Sale in London...goes Down as expected.

Well..The results are in, and it wasn't exactly a strong auction.

The one silver lining was that so far, Contemporary Art Photography seems to be holding in well.

Andreas_Gursky_Prada_III One Example.. (Photo 1, Andreas Gursky, Prada III, 1989, 67 x 118 inches)  The one big photo lot was #27 and it sold for more than the already lowered  presale estimate. 

  • Andreas Gursky

  • Prada III (1989) Color coupler print mounted on Diesec in wooden artist frame.

  • Presale Estimate : 180,000 - 220,000 British Pound Sterling

  • Actual Hammer price : 225,000 Sterling + Auction House Premium

  • Total Sale Price : 271,250 Sterling

But is sounds like the rest of the big evening  sale was almost a total bust not very strong!

Check it out.. The website, ChelseaArtGalleries.com does a great job with post auction analysis

Here's a story by Scott Reyburn of Bloomberg News...


Christie’s Sale Total Halves; $12.2 Million Rothko, Bacon Fail
2009-02-12 01:02:44.150 GMT

By Scott Reyburn
     Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Francis Bacon and
Mark Rothko
went unsold last night as nervous bidders paid only
half the amount Christie’s International estimated it would raise
in its first test of the contemporary-art market in 2009.
     The two pictures -- the only works valued at more than 2
million pounds -- had been estimated by Christie’s to sell for a
total of as much as 8.5 million pounds ($12.2 million) in London.
Both failed to attract a single bid. The auction total of 7
million pounds was below the presale low estimate of 14.5 million
pounds, both based on hammer prices.
     Dealers said contemporary-art prices have dropped between 30
and 50 percent over the last six months during the bank crisis
and economic slump, deterring buyers and sellers. Christie’s
ended up with its lowest total at a February auction of
contemporary art in London since 2004.
     “I was surprised by the number of unsolds,” Offer Waterman,
a London-based dealer, said in an interview. “The material
wasn’t as strong as last week and the mood was down. There were a
lot of empty seats in the room.”
     Seventy-nine percent of a shrunken offering of just 29 lots
found buyers. The auction, conducted by Jussi Pylkkanen,
Christie’s European president, was over in 36 minutes. Its total
of 8.4 million pounds with fees was 88 percent below the 72.9
million pounds achieved at the equivalent auction last year,
where a Bacon triptych sold for 26.3 million pounds ($51.5
million). Sotheby’s 17.9 million-pound contemporary-art auction
on Feb. 5 was 81 percent down on 2008.
     “The markets hate uncertainty,” said Amy Cappellazzo,
Christie’s deputy chairman, Americas. “Steadiness hasn’t yet
been achieved.”

                            Bacon Hope

     Bacon’s 1954 picture, “Man in Blue VI,” had been in the
same private collection since 1971 and had been expected to sell
for between 4 million pounds and 5 million pounds.
     The 5-foot-high canvas has a large dark background and a
small, blurred figure. It was one of seven paintings Bacon made
of an unknown man with whom the artist had an affair while living
in the Imperial Hotel, Henley-on-Thames, England. Unusually, the
image was painted from life, rather than from photographs, as was
Bacon’s normal practice, said Christie’s. It had never previously
been offered at auction.
     “The Bacon was perhaps too academic for the public and was
perhaps estimated too high,” said Pilar Ordovas, Christie’s
European deputy chairman of contemporary art.

                            Green, Blue

     Six lots later, Rothko’s 1968 abstract, “Green, Blue, Green
on Blue” failed to sell. The 3-foot 4-inch high work on paper
laid down on canvas had been expected to fetch between 2.5
million pounds and 3.5 million pounds, the London-based auction
house said.
     It was not fresh to the market, having been sold for $6.1
million at Christie’s in New York as recently as November 2007.
This put off potential buyers, said Christie’s.
     With the two highest-estimated lots failing, Jeff Koons’s
2003 playfully computer-manipulated 9-foot-high oil on canvas,
“Monkeys (Ladder),” led the auction with a low-estimate price
of 1.4 million pounds with fees paid by Gagosian Gallery, Koons’s
     The U.S. dollar price was almost exactly half the $4 million
the similar-sized and similarly painted 2000 Koons canvas,
“Cheeky,” raised at Sotheby’s in New York in November.
     A Koons stainless-steel sculpture of a model railroad car
filled with bourbon, from the artist’s 1986 “Luxury and
Degradation” series, sold to a telephone bid for 445,250 pounds
against a low estimate of 400,000 pounds. In May 2008, another
railroad car from Koons’s same limited-edition series sold at
Christie’s, New York, for $1.9 million.

                           Smiley Faces

     Takashi Murakami’s 5-foot diameter “Flower Ball (Brown)”
painting, featuring more than two dozen of the Japanese artist’s
trademark flower smiley faces, sold for 397,250 pounds against an
estimate of 300,000 pounds to 500,000 pounds. In February last
year another, identically sized “Flower Ball” painting in red
sold for $1.65 million at Sotheby’s in New York.
     Richard Prince’s artist’s proof of his 4-foot-wide 2001
limited edition photo, “Untitled (Cowboy),” showing a mounted
cowboy riding past a pond, failed to sell against a low estimate
of 240,000 pounds.
     Only three of the evening’s 29 lots sold for hammer prices
of more than the high estimate. Among these, the 10-foot-wide
Andreas Gurskycolor-coupler-print photograph, “Prada III,”
featuring rows of black woolen jumpers in a display case, managed
a hammer price of 225,000 pounds, translating to 271,250 with
auction house fees. From an edition of six, this had a high
estimate of 220,000 pounds. Like the Murakami, it was bought by a
telephone bidder.
     Christie’s said 66 percent of the buyers were from Europe,
27 percent from the U.S., 4 percent from the U.K. and 4 percent
from Asia.
     Christie’s charges a premium of 25 percent on the hammer
price up to and including 25,000 pounds, 20 percent up to and
including 500,000 pounds and 12 percent for more than 500,000

     (Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for
Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)




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Hi Mao - thought you might find my piece about Bonhams Dog Art sale interesting. Not modern art. But sales were up. Here is the link...


Frankly, I'm surprised that the lack of freshness made such a difference for the Rothko. We're surely going to be seeing MANY recently auctioned works coming back up for sale in the recession.

Sure but most of that stuff was floating on air. I thought that the day sale and Phillips sales performed pretty well.

Without the bonus culture (culture?) there's going to be a lack of ready cash for bric-a brac brash. Time for some well crafted beautiful art to return.

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Crazy Lower Prices! Is this an art auction or a liquidation sale? In all seriousness, I feel tangible art needs to be brought to the masses. Oh, how priviledged we art to stand three feet away from it in a gallery. This is a sad day for those artists who are charging ridiculously price items for their work.
Were you too not struggling as an emerging artist, so why now can you charge $360,000 for a print (good or not). We as consumers need to stand up to this and all that is our in this economic crisis. What greed fuels this art world. Mass production: that's the way to go.

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