Sotheby's Scores: Warhol and Giacometti for November
While many of the art auction houses are dreading the fall season, Sotheby's has a few lots to celebrate. Art advisors can't keep their mouths shut, it seems, and following a luncheon for them, word got out that the house has picked up pieces by Alberto Giacometti and Andy Warhol next month.
Most collectors have been hanging onto their art, unwilling to sell their pieces in an unfavorable economic climate. Instead, they're hoping for a recovery and will likely unload the good stuff when they can get top dollar – or at least something better than fire-sale prices. So, it's pretty astounding that Sotheby's was able to nab such high-powered pieces when the rest of the world is scraping for decent. If it was looking for a differentiator this season, it got one.
The sculpture by Giacometti, "L'homme qui chavire," will go under the gavel on November 4, 2009 and is estimated at $8 million to $12 million. A similar piece by the same artist sold at Christie's New York in May 2007 for $18.5 million, after having been estimated at $6.5 million to $8.5 million. But, that was 2007 ... a different time, for sure.
The seller is publishing business stud S.I. Newhouse, Jr., who is thought to have acquired the piece in a private transaction. Maybe the Conde Nast superstar should have unloaded it sooner and sunk the cash into the magazines he had to close.
Well, scratch that. Selling at the bottom of an art slump to pump the money into a magazine would be beyond stupid.
A week later, Sotheby's will offer up "200 One Dollar Bills" by Andy Warhol, which has the same presale estimate as the Giacometti. It was last sold at auction in 1986, when the current owner picked up the piece, by Sotheby's New York in the Robert Scull estate sale.
Can these two titans move the market? We'll have to wait a month to find out, but it's fair to assume that a few outliers won't be enough to change everything. The art market's fallen pretty badly from last year. A recovery's going to take time – more time than anyone really wants, unfortunately.