The Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening sale at Christie’s New York yesterday realized a mammoth sale of $786 Million and the blockbuster "Salvator Mundi" accounted for a disproportionately large share (57%) of the total sales About 42.9% (21) artworks sold above the high estimate and a significant number of artworks (39 %) sold above the high estimate The rest, 18.4 % artworks sold below the low estimate.
Christie’s pulled off its second-highest total for an Impressionist and Modern evening sale last night, 13 November, in New York. The $479.3m total (with fees) was double that of last year's sale. The evening’s top lot was van Gogh’s "Laboureur dans un champ", painted in early September 1889. The dazzling landscape sold -without a guarantee- at $72 million, coming to $81 million with fees, one million shy of the artist’s record.
Sotheby’s contemporary sale’s total of £50.3 million, including buyer’s premium, was the highest-ever total for a Sotheby’s auction during Frieze Week. But four of the 47 lots were withdrawn, two of which were announced before the sale, possibly an indication of sellers’ last-minute jitters, but over 88% of the remaining lots sold. The night had several pleasant surprises, including a record for Josef Albers, which estimates of £700,000 – £1,000,000 was heavenly surpassed +171% at a final sale of £2,540,000.
The second season of sales in London kicked off with a £149.4 million ($191.7 million) Impressionist and modern art evening sale in Christie’s, with the house ably finding buyers for all but two of the 32 lots on offer, en route to a sell-through rate of 94 percent. That’s a marked improvement over the equivalent sale last year when a slew of withdrawn lots led to a calamitous auction that totaled just £25.6 million ($32.8 million), the lowest haul for the event since the peak of the financial crisis.
The over-arching concern about the Contemporary art sales in London this week was whether Christie’s departure would destabilize the market. If uncertainty hung over the summer season in London after Christie’s decision to pull its contemporary June sales, Sotheby’s managed to find its footing with a solid auction last night (28 June). The house took £52.6m (£62.4m with fees) against an estimate of £44.3m-£60.6m.
The New York auctions began with an Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Christie’s Rockefeller Center salesroom that totaled $289 million, handily eclipsing its low estimate of $207 million and falling just short of its $307 million high estimate. Constantin Bancusi’s "La muse endormie" (1909–10), which sold for $57.4 million to a buyer on the other end of a cell phone clutched in the center of the room by former Sotheby’s rainmaker Tobias Meyer.
Works by Francis Bacon and Cy Twombly each sold for more than $50 million at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary art auction, helping drive a $448 million sale that met expectations in an uncertain political environment. Of the 71 lots on offer virtually all found buyers, with only three going unsold. The sale’s total nipped at the high pre-sale estimate of $463 million.
Any lingering doubts about the strength of the art market vanished this season at London’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sales this week, which raised a total of £307,048,100 (including Buyer’s premium). The total between Sotheby’s and Christie’s was 87% higher than in the same season in 2016, and 108.9% above the June results last year.
The contemporary art market has proved itself immune to the perceived threats of Brexit and the election of President Donald Trump, judging by Sotheby’s performance during its Contemporary Art Evening Auction.
Despite the current sense of uncertainty, it seems that the art world will be hoping it is business as usual, or perhaps even a better market for investment-grade for high-quality artworks, such as the ones that were offered at the past Surrealist auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.