Friday, November 14, 2008


The market for Contemporary art, the most speculative segment of the art market (+108% since 2003), is taking full speed the aftermath of the current financial turmoil.

Wall St. troubles are spreading over Fifth Avenue. The results of the November sales in New York organised by Sotheby’s and Christie’s are a slap in the face of the auctioneers.

Only 66% of the lots offered during the two prestigious evening sales found buyers and the global sales reached $204 million vs. a pessimistic prevision of $ 429 million.

We are far from the heights reached in November 2007 that now looks like the market's peak. At the same evening sales in 2007, only 9% of the lots remained unsold and the total revenue amounted to $ 399 million, i.e. 20% above the combined low estimates. As at 15 November 2008, the prices of contemporary and post-war art have contracted by 36% compared with December 2007, returning in a few months, to their November 2006 level.

A Self-portrait by Francis Bacon, a Concetto Spaziale Festa sul Canal Grande by Lucio Fontana (picture above at left), a sculpture and a painting by Roy Lichtenstein, a nude by Lucian Freud and an oil painting by Brice Marden are among the lots that the bidders left in the hands of the auctioneers. Even more worrying, 10 of the 13 works by Damien Hirst offered last week were also bought in or is it ? I would rather consider the occurence as an evidence that the market came back to its senses. Vive la crise !

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