Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Price of an Industrial Revolution Railway Bridge

Art Price: "Test Sale in New York"

In a few days, Sotheby’s and Christie’s will hold their prestigious New York sales with works by the leading artists in impressionism and modern art up for auction. Tension is running high one week ahead of these major sales since they will effectively test the confidence of collectors in the face of the current economic uncertainty.

Of course, dollar weakness may provide a fillip for this blue-chip market, but it could be that caution carries the day and a brake is put on price rises at the high end. Impressionism and post-impressionism did disappoint last November, particularly at Sotheby’s, when a Van Gogh was bought in whereas it had been expected to achieve more than USD 28 million and on which the auction house had agreed a guaranteed price. This mistake was sanctioned as of the following day, with a collapse in the Sotheby's share price. One week later, the success of the contemporary art sales again underpinned collector confidence in proving that the market had remained strong.

For its Impressionist and Modern Art sale, Sotheby’s, whose stock price is trading at below USD 30 on Wall Street compared with above USD 57 in October 2007, is focusing more on modern art. (...) Christie's headline lot, a Monet painting entitled Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil which is expected to raise close to USD 35 million. Even if these works have not come up for auction for decades, competition is pushing the two auction houses to again take significant risks. (...) >>>

Meanwhile at Bloomberg's: "Monet Sells for Record $41.5 Million at Christie's N.Y. Auction"

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Claude Monet's cerulean blue painting of the French countryside bisected by an iron railway bridge sold for a record $41.5 million tonight at a Christie's International auction in New York.

The sale suggests that $318 billion of credit losses and writedowns reported by banks linked to U.S. subprime loans haven't derailed the international art market. The 1873 painting was sold early in the evening's impressionist and modern art auction, the first of two weeks of bellwether sales projected to total $1.8 billion. Four of the evening's first 21 lots didn't sell.
Christie's estimated that "Le Point du Chemin de Fer a Argenteuil'' would fetch as much as $40 million. It was sold to a telephone bidder.

New York art adviser Cristin Tierney said that while buyers of impressionist and modern art aren't as plentiful as contemporary art devotees, they remain loyal and rich. (...) >>>

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