Fall Auctions In New York: So Far, So Good
The overall news wasn't entirely rosy though, Of 91 lots up for sale, 17 did not find buyers. And the overall sales totaled $394.9 million, which is healthily above the low end of the estimated sales, $348.6 million but still way below the $487.4 million high. Still, there always seems to be a fat wallet open when there is a Picasso around, other hot items included a few from the perennial favorite. "Seated Woman in a Turkish Costume (Jacqueline)," which was estimated to bring around $25 million went for $27.5 million. "Head of a Woman (Dora Maar)," brought in $16.2 million, which was far above the $8.5 million high estimate.
Of course, this is just the beginning of the sales. As I mentioned earlier in the week, the signs of any potential weakening in the art market will most likely be seen in the Contemporary sales next week. Which brings me to a related story in the London Times about the "secrets" of top art collectors and the changing role of the collector in society. The article asserts that today's collector is a more public figure, whose acquisitions are often known and whose pieces often become their calling cards, loaned off to museums around the world.
In a new book, Great Collectors of Our Time, James Stourton, the chairman of Sotheby's UK analyzes art collecting in the postwar era. While it still takes bucketloads of money, today's collector must combine his back account with a knowledge of the market, a bit of intuition and a single-minded passion that can stem from a variety of personal reasons. A collection, even one amassed for investment purposes, remains profoundly personal. The great collectors collect with their heart first and their wallet second. Which is the reason that anyone, even with a limited budget, can be a collector, just not at the fall sales in New York.
UPDATE: Uh oh, the news isn't so good from the Impressionist and modern art auction at Sotheby's in New York which Bloomberg calls "disappointing." Even paintings by some of the names that usually get snapped up in a moment like Picasso and Van Gogh didn't sell. Vincent van Gogh's yellow-and-blue `The Fields (Wheat Fields)'' which depicts the place where he later killed himself was estimated to sell for $35 million and received no bids. Paul Gauguin's Tahitian ``Te Poipoi (The Morning).'' had a high estimate of $60 million but sold for $39.2 million in a a lone telephone bid by Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau. The total sale was $269.7 million under the presale low estimate of $355.6 million. Did yesterday's Wall Street nose dive but a damper on the proceedings? It certainly looks like it didn't help.