October auction signals fragile confidence
Sending signals of confidence and stability, the art market came back strong in October, defying the economic upheavals that had plunged it into the summer lull in July. Auction houses have benefited from the somewhat stabilized economic outlook in recent months, but the strong figures reached in October do not entirely convince that the art market has not fallen since its peak of he a year ago, despite high sales rates and numerous outperformances. , it is advisable to keep an eye on the big picture.
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1990. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Hong Kong
At the beginning of the month, Sotheby’s organized its sales in Hong Kong, divided into Modern Evening Auction and Contemporary Evening Auction. The total of the two sales, including buyer’s premiums, came to $126.5 million, slightly lower than the combined median estimate of $131 million (before premium). by Gerhard Richter Summary Picture,1990, was the top lot in those sales, reaching $25.5 million, also slightly below its median estimate. Other notable top-notch lots included Sanyu’s Branches1963, sold for 11 million dollars, Zao Wou-Ki’s 15.02.651985, fetch, 9.9 million, Pablo Picasso Woman seated at the galette des rois1965, $9.7 million, and Peter Doig’s Country-rock (wing-mirror), 1999, which cost $9.6 million – these top performers mostly within but closer to the low estimate.
María Berrío, The Lovers 3, 2015. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Ultra-contemporary was a mixed bag. On the one hand, some of the hottest names of recent years have continued their trajectory – like Emily Mae Smith, who made $1.6 million for The riddle2017, more than five times its estimate, or relative newcomer María Berrío who more than tripled the estimate for lovers 32015, to reach $1.5 million – while others had more tame performances than they’re used to, like Salman Toor, Shara Hughes or Hernan Bass.
Frank Auerbach, director of JYM, 1984. Courtesy of Sotheby’s London
Less than ten days later, the three major auction houses staged their autumn sales in London over two days. Sotheby’s sales here were not divided into Modern and Contemporary, but into Contemporary and The Now, indicating a difference in focus for Western and Eastern audiences (where modern Asian artists occupied a large part of the list). Consecutive sales reached $108.9 million, led by Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Portrait of Henriette Moraes, 1963, which grossed $27.2 million. Gerhard Richter also figured prominently here, with his 192 Color1966, making it just above the high estimate to sell for $20.5 million, and Frank Auerbach got a new personal best of $6.3 million for JYM manager1984, some $1.3 million more than its recent record high.