ART MARKET ANALYSIS 2019
A potent combination of record-setting Pop art masterworks and a stainless steel rabbit sculpture by you-know-who drove Christie’s sale to a modest total of $538,971,000, 7% short from the pre-sale low estimate. With 17 guarantees, only 5 of the 56 lots offered failed to sell, for a BI rate of 9%, and 47 of the 51 sold lots made over $1 million.
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening sale came in slightly above the previous year’s sale with a total of $349,859,150. The weight of the sale’s total relied on the top ten lots representing 70% of the total and more than 50% of the total coming from the top three lots.
Sotheby’s Evening sale experimented with a new distribution of lots, placing female artists first. Almost 20% of the 66 lots offered were by women, its highest ever proportion of female artists. As a result, there were hits and misses. Expectations were high for Jenny Saville’s nine-foot fleshy canvas of a woman’s back, Juncture (1994); but it elicited just one bid, selling over the phone to its guarantor for £4.8m against a brave estimate of £5m-£7m.
The Brexit drama has already taken its first victims down the February Impressionist & Modern sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, which totaled £167,180,000 across the three evening sales, representing a decrease in the hammer total of 16.5% from February 2018. The combined sales total ended up well below the pre-sale estimate of £199,420,000 – £266,830,000.