NY art auc­tions come up short

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AUCTIONS - By CHRISTO­PHER MICHAUD

NEW YORK: Au­tumn art auc­tions be­gan with a stum­ble re­cently, fall­ing short of ex­pec­ta­tions, de­spite con­ser­va­tive pric­ing that marked Christie’s mod­est sale of im­pres­sion­ist and mod­ern works.

Al­ready vastly scaled down in both size and prices from a boom in art sales that came to a screech­ing halt a year ago, the auc­tions to­talled $65 674 000 (about R499.7m), in­clud­ing com­mis­sions, or just shy of the pre-sale low es­ti­mate.

Seventy per­cent of the 40 lots on of­fer found buy­ers.

“We saw strength in all ar­eas of the mar­ket,” said Christie’s honorary chair­man, Christo­pher Burge, who served as auc­tion­eer. But each of those seg­ments – im­pres­sion­ist, moder n, sculp­tures – also saw works come up short on price and oth­ers go un­sold.

Among those was the sale’s top-priced lot, Pi­casso’s Tete de femme. Es­ti­mated at $7m to $10m, it was taken off the block when no bids topped $6.4m. But Rodin’s Le Baiser, the iconic “kiss” bronze, fetched $6 354 500, more than three times the high es­ti­mate.

Conor Jor­dan, head of the im­pres­sion­ist and mod­ern art depart­ment, said the re­sult in­di­cated that stag­ing ma­jor sales in the cur­rent cli­mate is “still a work in progress”.

Burge added that half of the works that found buy­ers sold for more than their es­ti­mates, which he ex­pected would make sell­ers more con­fi­dent about sell­ing in the fu­ture. Artists whose works achieved solid prices in­cluded Ta­mara De Lem­picka, Wass­ily Kandin­sky and Sal­vador Dali. – Reuters

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