Warhol Stars In Sotheby's Contemporary Art Auction
Its mid-May performance was nothing to scream about, so Sotheby's didn't take any chances at last night's contemporary art auction in London. Three works by pop art king Andy Warhol moved for $10.5 million, accounting for 25 percent of the $42 million in sales. In all, 40 lots came under the gavel and came in just under the high estimate of $45 million. A surprisingly high 92.5 percent of works found buyers.
This year's London results for Sotheby's are off 73 percent from the late June 2008 contemporary art auction, indicating that low expectations played a role in last night's success. The average price last year was around $2.2 million, dropping this year by 48 percent as a result of a protracted art market recession. Well, Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of contemporary art for Sotheby's calls it "a performing transitional market," but you know what that means.
If the latest results tell us anything, it's that death is the cure for dying. An ailing art market is now showing signs of life thanks to the dead guys whose art continues to be in demand. Earlier auctions focused on lower cost, less prominent, "cutting edge" artists as an attempt to get collectors to open their wallets in smaller increments. Now, we're looking at a possible flight to quality. Ninety percent of the pieces auctioned had been under the hammer before.
So, is there any meaning in today's art market? Eh, maybe. It's schismatic. It's fun. And, at least it gives bloggers something to write about.