Sotheby's Stock Drops Sharply After Disappointing Auction.--

Some are wondering whether the art market has peaked after a weak night at auction last night:

High-profile impressionist paintings failed to sell at auction at Sotheby's in New York prompting fears that art's dizzy boom could be nearing an end.

Works by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir went unsold at Sotheby's sale of Impressionist and modern art last night although the sale of less expensive works resulted in £128.8 million of art going under the hammer.

The total was much less than the auction's low pre-sale estimate of £170 million and far less than the £235 million top estimate.

Van Gogh's The Fields (Wheat Fields), thought to be the last landscape ever painted by the Dutch artist, was expected to fetch in excess of £20 million. But the 1890 work received no bids. . . .

Four paintings by Picasso, including his landmark 1931 masterpiece La Lampe that came onto the market directly from the artist's family, failed to sell. Typifying the uncertainty, works by Renoir, Matisse, Monet and Chagall all went under the hammer last night while other paintings by the artists remained unsold. Twenty out of the 76 lots failed to find a buyer. . . .

"The Van Gogh painting not selling is a huge shock," said one European art dealer speaking on conditions of anonymity.

"This gives more indication that the art boom is on course to be another casualty of the global economic downturn in which case maybe we should all go and do something else for a few years."

(click to enlarge Van Gogh)

Sotheby's stock dropped more than 30% in the first 15 minutes of trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning [links added].

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's Goes Well.--
  2. Sotheby's Stock Drops Sharply After Disappointing Auction.--
Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's Goes Well.--

Sotheby's rebounded from its disappointing Impressionist auction with a smashing auction of more recent works:

LED by a record-breaking Jeff Koons sculpture and a $US46 million Francis Bacon canvas, Sotheby's has roared back from a dismal Impressionist sale to score the highest total in its history at a contemporary and postwar art auction.

Bacon's Second Version of Study for Bullfight No. 1 far exceeded its $US35 million-plus pre-sale estimate, while Koons' stainless steel Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold) soared to $US23,561,000, including commission, obliterating the artist's $US11.8 million record set a day earlier by his Diamond (Blue) sculpture.

Both Koons works were bought by the Gagosian Gallery, one of Manhattan's premier contemporary art dealers. Koons' 1600-kilogram sculpture, from his "Celebration" series, became the highest-priced work by a living artist sold at auction.

. . .

While prices have risen astronomically in the past year or two, the $US316 million total for Sotheby's exceeded even its most optimistic forecast of $US299 million for the 71 lots on offer. Only six works went unsold.

Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's head of contemporary art, said the results bore out "the high-quality hunger we're experiencing from a completely global community". Fears the weak dollar would deter US buyers, the traditional collectors of contemporary art, proved unfounded, with most buyers being American.

Sotheby's stock jumped nearly 10% in early Thursday trading.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's Goes Well.--
  2. Sotheby's Stock Drops Sharply After Disappointing Auction.--