As we head into fall auction season in New York, the first results aren't too promising. The Sotheby's auction of Impressionist and modern art on Monday delivered some disappointing results. The official estimate before the sale was $338 million to $475 million but the total was just $224 million and over half of that came from just three paintings, Kazimir Malevich's "Suprematist Composition," which sold for $60 million, Degas' "Danseuse au repos" that brought in $37 million and Edvard Munch's "Vampire" (shown above) which we mentioned earlier this month. It was expected to bring in $35 million but sold for $38.16 million.
These were bright spots in a mostly grim evening in which a full one-third of the lots went unsold. Sotheby's has said they were satisfied with the result since they had been expecting a correction due to the economy. Sellers have been advised to lower their reserve prices and not to expect high prices. In a sale in which pieces from van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, Monet and Modigliani went unsold it's hard to predict just what the market will want.