NEWS///ART & COMMERCE///SUCCESSFUL EUROPEAN AUCTION SALES CALM JITTERY ART MARKET

February 10, 2009  |  art, Art & Commerce, London, News

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Jeff Koons' "Stacked" was the prize pig at Sotheby's evening sale selling for $4,136,939...

Last year saw the art market operating at unprecedented highs with works by blue chip artists being snapped up as commodities in an array of auctions that made the heads of even seasoned dealers spin. Of course, by year's end Damien Hirst had claimed the title of "ultimate master of the game" with his masterfully timed, record setting "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever" Sotheby's auction at the precise moment the entire worldwide financial market threw a rod and seized. Since then auction houses have been in the kind of despair heretofore known only to the American auto industry while the art market in general has slowed considerably in keeping with the beleaguered economy. The International Asian Art Fair scheduled to take place during this year's NYC-based Armory show in NYC was even cancelled due to financial concerns and was quickly followed suit by the Moscow World Fine Art Fair (May) and the Salzburg Fine Art Fair (August) which were killed off entirely for 2009. Needless to say, the February auctions by Sotheby's, Christies, and Phillips de Pury that began in London on February 5th and run through the 13th are off to a promising start with a smaller, more carefully curated collection bringing in nice returns (the Sotheby's evening sale brought in $25,785,250 alone) and brightening expectations for this year's art market considerably in the process:

"Predictions of an art market meltdown were confounded in London this week as six sales of impressionist, modern and contemporary art at Christie's and Sotheby's turned in solid results.

The auction houses managed to restore confidence to a jittery market with successful sales by radically shrinking the size of the catalogue and lowering estimates compared with last year. Some distress selling is, however, beginning to filter through.

Among the week's highlights were a classic impressionist painting by Monet that fetched £11.2m, a Degas sculpture that sold for £13.3m and a carved stack of cartoon-like animals by Jeff Koons that made £2.8m. The day sales, which offer more moderately priced works, also proved successful.

"We feel a lot better than we did a week ago," said James Roundell, a London dealer. "At best, people thought the sales would be patchy. These results send a positive message to the market." Click HERE to continue reading...

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