In New York and London, art auction houses for ever dollar they can bring in, but the French have been able to fight back. The number of sales and lots brought to auction has remained stable year over year. And, in the first three months of the year, Paris put up better results than London or New York, thanks to the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint-Laurent sale at the Grand Palais back in February. Historically, Paris has lagged these two cities, but its resilience this year has changed the game a bit.
For the first quarter, art prices in France came down only 5 percent, a level that's been maintained through the rest of the year, so far. Christie's bears much of the responsibility for this success, with some solid auctions this year, though Sotheby's has helped, as well, with a Contemporary Art auction that moved 95.2 percent of the lots offered. Also, Parisian auctions aren't as up-market as those in London and New York, which has muted the effects of the global financial crisis.
In addition to the Yves Saint Laurent sale, which brought in €373.5 million (€255 million for works of art), the late May auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's did perform well relative to past years. The summer is likely to be quiet, with smaller auctions in Paris, but Christie's is bringing a private collection to market with pieces by Henri Laurens, Hans Harp and Henri Michaux, among others. The numbers won't be eye-popping, but expect the momentum to continue.
Vive la resistance!