Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Chill

As if the chill in the air weren't enough to encourage my cold to linger (I really do feel like a large, warm ball of mucous is sitting where my head should be), I wake this morning to hear that Sotheby's stock plunged something like 28% because of a lackluster sale of Impressionist and Modern art. (I wish I had the luxury of feeling that a $270 million haul was a failure.) It's all relative, I know.

The speculation this morning is more furious than the bidding was last night, obviously, but it's foolhardy to place too much importance on the outcome of one auction (especially in light of how well Christie's had done the day before). The Dow Jones Industrial Average tank yesterday, oil is so close to $100/barrel we might as well call it that, and the dollar may very well replace firewood for a heating source in certain regions this winter. All of this very likely soured the mood in the room before the first lot was revealed. Once the Van Gogh was bought in, it snowballed from there.

If I had a crystal ball, I'd tell you how this plays out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that one bad auction doesn't a burst make, but clearly, things are getting interesting...

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7 Comments:

Blogger George said...

From a comment I made earlier today on a financial message board.

Sothebys was too aggressive in making their pre-sale estimates. The high and low estimates are a bit like support and resistance levels on a stock chart, when bids fail to make the low estimate buyers pull back.

For example:
Christie’s offered an exceptional Matisse painting, with pre-sale estimates set at 15,000,000 - 20,000,000 US$. It sold for 33,641,000 US$ which was 13.641 million over the high estimate

By comparison, Sothebys offered an exceptional Gauguin painting, with pre-sale estimates set at 40,000,000 - 60,000,000 US$. It sold for 39,241,000 US$, which was $759 thousand under the low estimate.

Christie’s top ten sales fetched a total of $204.51 million. While Sothebys came in at $165.05 million. Overall, Christie’s saw twice as many of the ten highest priced lots sell over the high estimate as did Sothebys.

No doubt the market action yesterday put a damper on enthusiasm, but I think Sothebys managed to mess it up a bit themselves. In general it appears to me that Sothebys is setting their pre-sale estimates 20-25% higher than Christie’s. I think they have over estimated the market which is strong but more rational than last year. So, BID (Sothebys stock) got bashed.

11/08/2007 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Sotheby's appears to be doing the same thing that the real estate agent did when putting the house down the street from mine on the market in 2001. They over-priced it since there was a boom on, and nobody bid. Meanwhile my real estate agent priced mine reasonably, and it sold for $20K over the asking price, which happened to be what the house down the street was asking in the first place.

This downturn affects more than just art dealers. I'm considered a 'luxury' business, and when people are financially anxious they stop booking massages, even if their income in real terms is not yet affected.

11/08/2007 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

I thought the article under Sotheby's was interesting too...
on Mark Greenwald at DC Moore that was reviewed by Roberta Smith...

It is instructive to imagine the D C Moore Gallery’s 10-year survey of Mark Greenwold’s small, fraught Realist paintings in one of New York’s major museums. Such a fantasy points up how narrowly even the best art institutions tend to define contemporary art, and how easily and rewardingly those strictures might be stretched.

Skip to next paragraph

D C Moore Gallery
“The Excited Self” (2005-6), part of a solo exhibition of small-canvas works by Mark Greenwold that runs through Saturday.
Mr. Greenwold’s fastidiously made, this-is-my-life images would draw lively interest from a diverse audience. And they would say something fresh about the tense interplay of tradition, innovation and personal necessity that fuels most art.

But at 65 Mr. Greenwold has no profile on the current auction scene, in white-hot galleries or in the halls of academe. He has no Conceptual street cred and no waiting list. He is well known to other artists of a certain age; Chuck Close has painted his portrait. (It is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is now on view there.) But his reputation is definitely that of the painter’s-painter variety.

I saw his work atthe Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT a few years ago and I remember it vividly

11/08/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

At least Greenwold is showing somewhere.

11/08/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger ModernArtObsession said...

I think a little set back is probably very healthy.

Times have been too good for too long.

These auction houses have jacked up their buyer premiums to unreasonable levels, and given silly guarantees.

It's about time for a little reality!

11/08/2007 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

These auction houses have jacked up their buyer premiums to unreasonable levels, and given silly guarantees.

I read that rather than making guarantees they were fiddling with the premiums (I can't remember the details). As for the guarantees that were made, this may have been a mistake now that loan collateral is being more closely scrutinized on all fronts.

11/08/2007 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

This is a post that should be made the third week of December when the Wall Street bonuses come in much lower.

THEN we'll start seeing some real news.

11/08/2007 04:35:00 PM  

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