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  1. Wealth
November 16, 2012

What This Week's Record-Breaking Auctions Mean

By Spear's

Records fell faster than stock shares, and that was no easy feat

Records fell faster than stock shares, and that was no easy feat. Some random thoughts recapping the week’s historic art auctions in New York.

Christie’s day sale ran into Phillips’ evening sale causing terminal case of auction fatigue: all of the auctions should run straight though, 24 hours per day, until every last lot is sold, you know, the way they build airports in Beijing.

This way, time-lag between sales is ended, dilly dallying at restaurants and shops avoided, and people can just get on with their lives — buying more art next month at the 11th Art Basel Miami Beach*. Come!

Read more: Kenny Schachter’s blog

Simone de Pury of Phillips chided a collector who dared attempt to reduce the bidding increment by halving it from $10,000 to $5,000, calling it a “measly little increment” (make great band name, tho). I think its time for Jay Z to conduct art auctions. if a bidder low-balls, he could rap your “Money Ain’t a Thing”.

Jeff Koons’ Tulips makes $33,682,500, and it’s an edition of five! Do the math: $33,682,500 x 5 = $168,412,500, that’s a lot of tulips. Smell a little Dutch Tulip Mania from 1637?

“Never overestimate people’s willingness to pay a premium for the obvious,” said Robert McClain, art adviser, quoted in the NY Times. Fairly depressing news for anyone a little less unsubtle.

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With the stock market in freefall, all the NY Times could do is moan that Gerhard Richter only made $17.5m (firmly within $15-18m estimate range). What has become of the world?

Read more: Christie’s sale hits $412 million

Read more: Sotheby’s sale hits $375 million

Call the suicide (smoking-hot)line: a depiction of one hapless man en route to the pavement (Suicide, by Andy Warhol, pictured above), died two deaths. Warhol’s paperwork record was the second burning casualty, fetching $16 million.

Ladies and gentleman, we have the boxing match of the century: Picasso vs Warhol for market supremo, place your bets. Makes for a nice midcap company: of 43 Picasso works auctioned last week, 32 sold for $106 million.

Those sales happen four times a year – two in NY, two in London – which makes for a pretty hefty yearly turnover. Warhol sold $54m in one night at the start of the Contemporary sales.

*Art Basel: From December 6 through 9, Miami Beach, Florida, will host the eleventh edition of Art Basel, the most prestigious art show in the Americas. More than 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa will take part, showcasing works by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Read more: Kenny Schachter’s blog

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