Last evenings Sotheby’s auction missed the mark by over a third of the $401 million presale estimate.
Sotheby’s had promised sellers fixed prices for works by Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and other artists, regardless of whether the pictures sold, and some didn’t. The shortfall may signal that the market has crested. “If they have huge guarantees, and there are a lot of unsold lots, it could have a ripple effect on the contemporary art market,” said New York dealer Richard Feigen, who has invested in Sotheby’s stock.
Van Gogh’s “The Fields (Wheat Fields)” received no bids and didn’t sell. The guaranteed painting was valued at $28 million to $35 million. Georges Braque’s “L’Echo,” expected to go for as much as $20 million, also failed to sell and carried a guarantee.
My Comments: It appears the credit crisis has spread to the collectibles market. In fact a friend who collects vintage Ferraris just returned from London where he witnessed similar results.