PARIS, May 22, 2023/PRNewswire/ -- Without "absolute masterpieces," no significant results were achieved at Christie's prestigious first big sale in New York in 2023. Many works exceeded $10 million on May 11 , but none crossed the threshold of 50 million. In fact, last year's peak value in the same sale, when Andy Warhol's Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) fetched $195 million, now seems quite remote.
Henri Le Douanier Rousseau -The Flemings (1910), sold for $43.5 million at Christie's on May 11, 2023Photo - https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/2078055...
Top 15 Billing Artists at Christie's New York on May 11, 2023Photo - https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/2078056...
The art market is a pyramid, observes Thierry Ehrmann, CEO of Artmarket.com and founder of Artprice. "Its base remains very solid, thanks to the countless exchanges registered in the four cardinal points, in all price ranges. But this pyramid likes to be crowned each year with a new masterpiece; a kind of apex that is still missing in 2023".
The market holds its breath
This situation breaks somewhat with the tradition established by Christie's in recent years. François Pinault's auction house has accustomed the art market to seeing a very important result every May in its New York auction room:
In its top sale of 20th-century art, on May 11, 2023, Christie's best result was just $43.5 million for a canvas by Henri Rousseau (aka Le Douanier) painted the year of his death. This is a resounding record for this artist, whom Picasso especially loved, but it is almost too modest a peak or for this prestigious sale.
Does this indicate a loss of momentum after the spate of jaw-dropping records broken last fall during the Paul G. Allen Collection sale, when Christie's sold five lots for more than $100 million in a single night?
The most spectacular results of the evening came from two works from the Paul G. Allen Collection that were not included in last fall's sale. The first was Georgia O'Keeffe's Black Iris VI (1936), estimated at $5-7 million and reaching $21.1 million (tax included). The last time it went up for auction, in 1998, it sold for $1.1 million, almost twenty times less. The other was David Hockney's Early Blossom, Woldgate (2009), also estimated at $5-7 million, which reached $19.4 million.
Guarantees... but not results
Only 33 of the 70 lots offered by Christie's New York on May 11, 2023 were unsecured. All works in the S. I. Newhouse Collection and the Paul G. Allen Collection (as well as many others in prestigious collections, such as the Alan and Dorothy Press Collection) benefited from sales guarantees, something increasingly common in great art sales
For these lots Christie's publishes the following statement: "At times, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This usually occurs when Christie's guarantees to the seller that, whatever the outcome of the auction, , you will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a guaranteed minimum price. This is quite a lot."
As of Spring 2022, 30% of Christie's 20th-Century Art session lots were subject to warranties (17 of 56 offered, including two in the Anne H. Bass Collection sale). This year, the same auction house guaranteed 52% of the lots. However, extending these sales guarantees does not necessarily ensure a better result. In total, in its sale on May 11, 2023, Christie's made a total of 506.6 million dollars compared to 832.2 million in the same session the previous year.
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