Is It Gonna Be a Bumpy Ride?
As the art market death watch heats up (see MAO's post on Eli Broad's predicitons), the two big auctions houses seem hellbent on discouraging collectors from pestering them to take on lower-priced works. From artinfo.com:
Three weeks after Christie’s announced that it would raise its buyers’ commissions by about one quarter, Sotheby’s has announced it will do the same, reports Bloomberg. As of Sept. 1, buyers will be charged 25 percent of the sale price on the first $20,000, 20 percent of the price above $20,000 up to and including $500,000, and 12 percent of any remaining amount above $500,000.Previously, the rates were 20 percent of the hammer price on the first $500,000 and 12 percent for $500,000 or more.Indeed, as the Bloomberg report notes, this moves seems designed to alleviate themselves of the drudgery of handling lower-priced works:
Sotheby's, which auctioned almost as much art as Christie's in the first half, has said its strategy is to focus on higher- priced works. The auction house sold 37,977 lots in the first six months, compared with 56,978 at Christie's, Sotheby's said in an e-mail.The timing of this strategy is kind of brilliant actually in that if the market does slow down, it's in the mid-range priced work market that the biggest effect is expected. The conventional wisdom is that highest-end works will see their prices readjusted downward, of course, but a respectable demand will still be there, and the emerging art prices will remain attractive enough to keep hard-core collectors feeding their addictions, but many more of those pieces that were entering that range that's a bit of a financial stretch for your average collector (especially those in the $50,000+ range) will end up back in artists' studios. Of course, if there's anything the past 5 years have taught us it's that the conventional wisdom needs tweeked a bit, due to the more global nature of the market, but, as Bette would say, "Fasten your seatbelts...."
Christie's, which raised its fees on lower-priced lots early this month, wouldn't say how many lots it sold.
Labels: art market