Auction market bullish in 2011, so far

  • July 21, 2011 11:03

  • Email
Stubbs's 1765 canvas "Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, With a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey" sold for $36 million at Christie's in London on July 5.
Christie's International

The market for fine and decorative arts roared through the start of 2011 at the world's two biggest auction houses. Christie’s reported worldwide sales for the first half of 2011 of $3.2 billion, up 15% over last year's figures. Sotheby's just breezed through a summer of blockbuster sales in London totaling in excess of £365 million ($589 million), including 49 artist record prices.

Among the 95 works sold for over $1 million during Sotheby's four-week series, a Venetian scene by Francesco Guardi fetched a record $42.86 million while an Egon Schiele painting brought an astonishing record price of $40 million, adding to the $2.9 billion in sales that Sotheby's is expected to announce for the first half of the year.

Advertisement

Christie's biggest sales so far this year include Andy Warhol's $38.4 million "Self-Portrait" and Mark Rothko's $33.6 million "Untitled No. 17," part of $702.6 million in post-war and contemporary art sales, up 52% from a year ago. Sales for American paintings dropped by 31%, to $26.5 million, while Asian art went up by 58%, to $581.4 million.

Strong prices for top lots reflect buyers' quest for the "best of the best' as they build collections in the Medici-style across disciplines, say some experts.

Mark Rothko's Untitled No. 17 (est. $18-22m) sold for $33.68m at Christie's in May 2011.
Christie's International

Buyers were selective. Sotheby's Old Master & British Drawings sale sold just 50% by lot even while the strength of certain star lots boosted the season's Old Masters category to a hefty total of £133.8 million ($214 million).

New bidders increased by 14% at Christie's this year. A growing client base is coming from mainland China, the largest market for wine and Asian art, however, Continental Europe, the US and the UK continue to account for the firm's highest proportion of new clients (78%).

Private sales made through Christie's jumped by 57% this year to $467.3 million. The exploding private sales sector can also be seen with the oil-rich nation of Qatar, named by The Art Newspaper as the world's biggest buyer of contemporary art, and rumored to have been behind major private sales such as the $310 million Merkin Rothkos. Qatar, in fact, tapped Christie's chairman Edward Dolman to build a state collection and oversee the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).

The middle range of the market, works at about £500,000-1 million, has also been solid, according to Christie's. The average sell-through rate is in excess of 90% for this price level.

This bullish buying trend might soon be dampened, warns a market report from ArtTactic. A survey showed that economic uncertainty and fear about the European debt crisis are seen as mounting risks to the global economy that will trickle down to the art market.

The art market has slowly recovered since the 2008 banking crisis. Yet, ArtTactic's "Risk Barometer" now reads at 12.6%, the same level as right before the Lehman collapse.

Still, ArtTactic reports that its so-called Contemporary Art Market Confidence Indicator was up by 8.3% in the first half of 2011.

Egon Schiele's "Hauser mit Bunter Wasche 'Vorstadt' II" sold for $40.1 million at Sotheby's.
Sotheby's

Some experts believe that buyers will continue to put their cash into art as an investment, as long as sellers offer top-quality lots. The year's early sales results, too, are "a clear indication of the enduring vigour and passion for great works of art throughout the world,” says Christie's CEO, Steven P. Murphy.


  • Email

More News Feed Headlines

Left: Barbara Zucker, Blushing Bride, 1977.  Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.  Photo by Chris Kendall.  Right: Betty Woodman, Zante, 1985.  Courtesy of Charles Woodman/Estate of Betty Woodman, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, and Salon 94, New York.  Photo by Thomas Muller.

Underexamined, Women-Led Pattern and Decoration Movement Explored In Expansive Exhibition at Hessel Museum of Art

  • ArtfixDaily / April 19th, 2021

This June, the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, will present With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in ...

Read More...
François - Xavier Lalanne (French, 1927 – 2008), Moutons de l aine (Woolen sheep) (detail), 1968 – 71.  Patinated bronze, wool, aluminum, wood; sheep with heads: 35 x 36 1/2 x 18 in.; ottomans: 21 1/4 x 31 x 18 in.  Private collection Image: © 2016 Christie’s Images Limited; Artwork: © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), Ne w York / ADAGP, Paris

The Imaginative Sculptures of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne Showcased In Summer Exhibition at The Clark

  • ArtfixDaily / April 19th, 2021

Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne: Nature Transformed May 8–October 31, 2021, at The Clark Art Institute in ...

Read More...
Tiara, Cartier London, special order, 1936.  Platinum, diamonds, turquoise.  Sold to The Honorable Robert Henry Brand.  Cartier Collection.  Vincent Wulveryck, Collection Cartier © Cartier

Major Exhibition Exploring Cartier’s Inspirations from Islamic Art to Make U.S. Debut at Dallas Museum of Art

  • ArtfixDaily / April 18th, 2021

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (MAD Paris), in partnership with the Maison ...

Read More...
"Adam Naming the Animals," antique oil painting on tin tray.  30” x 22”.  From Diana H.  Bittel Arts & Antiques.

ARTFIXdaily Closed Week of April 12, Returning Next Week With A Virtual Look at The Philadelphia Show

  • ArtfixDaily / April 11th, 2021

ARTFIXdaily will be closed for the week of April 12 and subscriber e-newsletter service will resume on April 19. ...

Read More...

Related Press Releases

Schwenke Auctioneers - Spring fine Estates Auction - April 25

ARTFIXdaily Artwire