Thursday, November 15, 2007

O Gravity, Gravity...Wherefore art Thou?

From Today's New York Times:
Led by a record-breaking Jeff Koons sculpture and a $46 million Francis Bacon canvas, Sotheby's roared back from a dismal Impressionist sale to score the highest total in its history at a contemporary and postwar art auction on Wednesday.

Bacon's "Second Version of Study for Bullfight No. 1" far exceeded its $35 million-plus pre-sale estimate, while Koons' stainless steel "Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold) soared to $23,561,000, including commission, obliterating the artist's $11.8 million record set one day earlier by his "Diamond (Blue)" sculpture.

Both works by Koons were bought by the Gagosian Gallery, one of Manhattan's premier contemporary art dealers.
Methinks the art universe rotates around Mr. Larry. In fact, Men's Vogue's Art Loves Money credited Mr. Gagosian's no-show at Sotheby's recent Impressionist and Modern sale for that evening's awful results:
It was a bad sign when Larry Gagosian didn't show up for Sotheby's November 7 sale of Impressionist and modern art and things only got worse from there.
Indeed, if his new digs in Moscow and Rome are any indication of how confident he is about the market, gravity isn't being seen as having much effect on contemporary art prices anytime soon. Which, of course, seems ludicrous. As MAO noted in a comment in response to my suggestion that the conventional wisdom says the art market takes about 1.5 years to feel the impact of a major recession:
I think the Fincancial correction has been going on for 6 to 9 months already.. And, Wall Street started taking the big losses in May and June..several hedge funds were already 100% wiped out.

So.. I'd say..if you're right about your 1.5 years... we only have another 8 or 9 months of party left... Yikes!

Well... let's all enjoy Maimi.. while we still can.. cause next year might be VERY different!

Or perhaps, as I suggested back in May, the conventional wisdom is outdated. The new, more global nature of the art market might mean that the tumbling housing market in the US won't have as direct an impact as it might have had two decades ago. Other ecomonies (ones doing very well by all accounts) like those in Europe and Asia now have to be taken into account. It's worth noting, however, that two nights ago,

Even with the weak dollar, Americans led the charge, scooping up 50.8 percent of the lots, followed by Europeans at 26.2 percent, Asians at 6.6 percent, and “other” at 17.3 percent.

The question, of course, is how that compares with who was buying in New York a year ago or five years ago.

Of course, the Contemporary sales are only Part I of the deathwatch test. Miami will be Part II. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.


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8 Comments:

Anonymous Charles Browning said...

Vanity Fair had Gagosian as the center of their Art World Universe spread some months back.

I think the old economic model that feeds the deathwatch doesn't take into account how far above it all float the super rich. They can lose half their fortunes and still be richer than 99% of the rest of us. If there is to be a pinch at all it will be at the other end, not at the high end galleries or auctions.

11/15/2007 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

I'm not sure the next "crash" will be as bad as the one in the early 90s. So many more people collect art now -- and most of them aren't flippers.

11/15/2007 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

It was a bad sign when Larry Gagosian didn't show up for Sotheby's November 7 sale of Impressionist and modern art and things only got worse from there.

If he ever gets the flu I'm selling my whole collection immediately.

11/15/2007 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous an always interested reader said...

Jeff Koons' prices are certainly indicative of a continuing bearish market. To balance this with a more finer traditional currency Bacon is the perfect choice to pair in the headlining. I bet Larry had a hand in the Bacon as well! Will Jeff be around in 2050? I thinks so? In 3000? No! Not unless our current malls get turned over to GAINT thrift shop-styled establishments. Museums have already voted that they don't want to be the next generation's thrift stores.

a.a.i.r.

11/15/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i had the same vaguely suicidal thoughts reading about the koons number this morning as i did upon walking out of his 'made in heaven' show at sonnabend

it's not the money so much as . . . what i don't know

bizarre times

11/16/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

You can't talk about any of this without talking about the fall of the dollar.

11/16/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Camplin said...

I read a great book on the art market, "The Worth of Art." It really opened my eyes to the art market. Your site is great to visit, much for the same thing, thanks.

11/17/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Liz Weber said...

If you want to meet Jeff Koons and get a private tour of his studio, led by the man himself, you can bid on the chance at www.charitybuzz.com. The auction ends on March 6, 2008.

3/06/2008 12:16:00 AM  

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