Art Market report, September 30th, 2022
After a 10-day trip to South Korea in late August, checking out the art market and visiting Frieze Seoul, our directors are now back in New York geared up for a very busy season of art fairs, exhibitions and auctions. This week marked the start of the fall auction season in New York, with Contemporary sales at Phillips, Christie's, and Sotheby's.
Seoul the week before Frieze reminded us of Miami during Art Basel week, as it was buzzing with art market activity and gallery openings. We visited shows at Pace, Hauser and Worth, Konig, Perrotin, Lehmann Maupin, Kukje, PKM, and Gladstone. Frieze was a smaller event than those in London and New York, and on opening day was very active.
One interesting observation we had was that the vast majority of the buyers were locals under 45 years old, and a majority were women. Certainly a different demographic to the art fair buyers in the west. Another conclusion was the galleries who did best were those who had invested time and effort in developing their market; those who simply pitched their tent and expected sales just by being there were left wanting.
The market so far has been generally resilient, and in some cases buoyant, against global financial woes. Clearly low and middle market action will diminish, but there will surely be huge prices at the upcoming blockbuster sales.
In London in October, Christie's and Sotheby's will hold their Modern and Contemporary evening sales. Some top lots include David Hockney's Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime (1968-69), estimated at £8,000,000 - 10,000,000 and Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes estimated in excess of £30 million.
In New York, Christie’s offers the Ann and Gordon Getty Collection over several days in October and the Paul Allen collection in November, and Sotheby's has just announced the sale of David Solinger's collection of mostly Post-War art, estimated to fetch $100 million.
This week’s New York Contemporary Sales
Danielle Orchard, Seated Woman, 2020, oil on canvas, sold Phillip's New York: $176,400, estimate $30,000 - $50,000 (estimates do not include the buyers premium).
1. Phillip's, September 28
The season launched with Phillip's annual New Now sale which did extremely well, despite being almost completely devoid of in-person bidders – see our photo below taken one minute before the sale started, with 20 auction staff manning phones, and two other visitors apart from us.
According to Artnet, Phillips netted $8.4 million in total, with an 86% sell through rate. There was a lot of online bidding from Japan and China, as well as from Lebanon and UK.
The selection for sale was relatively low value: the top lot was George Condo's White + Grey Composition at $289,000, estimate $70,000-$90,000. Many lots went for several times their estimates, including works by Ana Benaroya (sold $115,920, estimate $20,000-30,000), Danielle Orchard (sold $176,400, estimate $30,000 -50,000), Wes Lang (sold $252,000, estimate 50,000-70,000).
Other artists that fared well in a lower price bracket include Eddie Martinez, Amanda Baldwin and Ivy Haldeman. Artists who have previously seen extraordinary sales results, such as Ernie Barnes and José Macarrón, did not soar but performed modestly well.
Lynne Drexler, Violet Sunlight 1962, oil on canvas, sold Christie's New York: $781,200, estimate $300,000 - $500,000.
2. Christie’s, Sept 29
Christie’s Post-War to Present sale featured new groupings such as ‘New Voices’ ‘Female Abstraction’ and ‘Generations of Color,’ tapping into some of the hottest market trends that we’ve been following since the May sales, including the continued for works by young women and artists of color.
In Christie's morning session, the breakout stars included several female artists such as Loie Hollowell, Lynne Drexler, and Helen Frankenthaler. Hollowell's Swimmers went over double the high estimate (with fees) and Frankenthaler's nearly reached double.
Both of Drexler's pieces also far exceeded estimates and the artist has had an excellent year so far with strong collector interest in her work. In May, her large-scale painting Herbert's Garden had sold for $1.5 million with fees and in July, a smaller work flew beyond the estimate of $50,000-70,000 at Sotheby's New York to sell for $630,000. Five years ago one could pick up a great Drexler for under $200,000.
The sale additionally had 17 lots donated by artists and galleries to fund FLOURISH, a charity dedicated to raising money for research on STXBP1 Disorders founded by Bridget Finn of Reyes Finn gallery. Galleries that donated included Sean Kelly and Sadie Coles.
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Speak For Yourself), 1988, black and white silkscreen photograph, sold: Sotheby's New York: $310,000, estimate $80,000-$120,000.
3. Sotheby's, September 30
Sotheby's held its own Contemporary Curated sale today, which will be followed by their Contemporary Discoveries and Modern Discoveries sales on 3rd-4th October. Comparatively, the top lots of Sotheby's sale are dominated by familiar names: de Kooning, Warhol, Haring, and Kiefer, a sign that Sotheby's might be playing it safer than Christie's and Sotheby's whose sales are at relatively lower price points with a much wider range of (and possibly unfamiliar) names.
Sotheby's hedged their bets with the consignments for the sale in a marked contrast to both Christie's and Phillips, which leaned into diversity and freshness as a sales tactic.
Despite the difference in strategies, all three auction houses fared very well. At Sotheby's some of the top prices included Ed Clark's Véthuil 1, estimated at $200,000-300,000, and sold for $1.07 million with fees. The top lot of the sale, Willem de Kooning's Untitled (1964), which we think isn't a great example, sold for $4.1 million with fees after being estimated at $1.8 - 2.5 million.
Lynn Drexler continued to fare well as did Barbara Kruger, both selling for nearly double their estimates; we were curious to see if Kruger's markets would rise following her recent exhibitions at David Zwirner and MoMA.
Sotheby's also recently announced 'Artist's Choice' an initiative to bring primary market works from artists and galleries to auction; a cut of the final price will go to a charity of the artist's choice. The first sales under this new scheme took place during the Contemporary Curated Sale on 30 September. Several artists did particularly well, such as Vaughn Spann, whose Night Sweat sold for $327,600 (estimate: $80,000 - 120,000) and Atsushi Kaga who sold for $201,600 (estimate: 30,000-40,000).
Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1963, oil on canvas, Sotheby's London: 14 October 2022, estimate in excess of £30 million ($34.7 million).
As mentioned above, the big houses will hold some mega sales this autumn.
Sotheby's will also sell the collection of William S. Paley, some of which had been on long term loan to MoMA and will raise funds for expanding the museum's digital offerings. Paley's collection will be spread across sales in New York and London.
Paul Cézanne, La montagne Sainte-Victoire, 1890, oil on canvas, estimated above $120 million.
Paul Allen Collection
The biggest collection to come up to the block these season, Christie’s finally revealed details of the Paul G. Allen collection and set the art world talking. It is expected to be the most expensive single-owner collection ever sold, surpassing both the Macklowe and Rockefeller collections, and could smash artist price records.
Top billed is Paul Cezanne’s La montagne Sainte-Victoire, with a rumored price above $120 million. If achieved, it will double the current top price for Cezanne ($60.5 million set in 1999). Also set to break the 9-figure mark are Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petit version) and Van Gogh’s Verger avec cyprès, both 1888, as well as a Klimt and Gauguin both above $90 million.
Allen’s collection is wide-ranging, including Northern Renaissance works and Post-War works by Francis Bacon and Jasper Johns. There are some truly extraordinary examples.
Pablo Picasso, Femme dans un fauteuil, 1927, oil on canvas, at David Solinger’s home. Photo: Visko Hatfield.
David Solinger Collection
Full details are yet to be announced, but Solinger's collection features highlights including Joan Miró's Femme, étoiles (1945), Picasso's portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme dans un fauteuil, from 1926 and an Alberto Giacometti sculpture, Trois hommes qui marchent (grand plateau), from 1949 which was commissioned by Solinger.
Solinger, a television lawyer, joined the board of the Whitney Museum in 1961 and succeeded Flora Whitney Miller as the first non-Whitney to be the museum's president. Solinger secured the funding for the Breuer Building on Madison Avenue that is now the temporary home of the Frick Collection (which happens to be around the corner from our office on East 76th Street).
We are not sure how much these mega collector sales will be a litmus test for the art market facing some global financial pressures as there are enough billionaires to buy the very best
Overall, the market still continues to be strong, with many seeing art a safer investment than stocks. The more regular November sales in New York will provide more insight into the market as a whole. But as always, the Fine Art Brokers team says that however good the market is one has to be selective and consider quality, condition and subject matter (amongst other factors) when collecting art. We are here to help.
New York, September 30th, 2022