Cooling auction sales and lackluster auction house offerings have precipitated chatter that the art market is going through a “correction.” The more the market cools, apparently the more freaked out collectors get, who then in turn pull tight their pursestrings and refrain from offering their best works at auction, in fear that they would not fetch top dollar. As John Good, a private dealer in New York is quoted as saying, “So they wait. Your average collector is rich and doesn’t have to sell.” Read the full report via Bloomberg here, or the excerpt below.
Sotheby’s sold $144.5 million of Impressionist and modern art, its worst showing at an evening sale in the category in New York since the 2009 recession and the latest evidence of a cooling auction market.
The auction capped a wild day that began with Sotheby’s reporting a larger-than-expected loss in the first quarter. The company’s shares fell as much as 8.5 percent before rebounding to a 6 percent gain on news that an unidentified investor may boost its stake to 10 percent.
Monday’s sale fell short of the minimum presale target of $164.8 million and marked a 61 percent drop from a year earlier as 21 of the 62 lots went unsold. One bright spot was the top lot – Auguste Rodin’s marble “L’Eternel Printemps,” which sold for $20.4 million, including buyer’s premium, handily outperforming the presale estimate. A day earlier at Christie’s and Phillips, postwar and contemporary art auctions also did a fraction of the business they tallied last May.
The high-end art market “appears to be going through a correction,” Taposh Bari, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in a note last month.
*Image of Sotheby’s workers via the Telegraph