Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Contempoary art hit by credit crunch

The once flying market for contemporary art lost some of its height last week as it felt the force of the economic crisis. Frieze, conducted from a tent in Regents Park from October 15-18 was badly hit as the £66.25 million combined auction total came in under half the estimated value.

Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips de Pury had all asked consigners to lower their reserve levels before the sales after receiving indications that demand would falter following the worst crisis in banking and the financial sector since the Great Depression.

Phillips de Pury's evening sale on October 18 was the worst affected. The £4.16 million total was under a quarter of presale expectations and the selling rate was 54 per cent.

Christie's contemporary art evening sale the day after totalled £28 million hammer, well bellow the pre-sale low estimate £57 million, with the selling rate at 55 per cent.

Sotheby's evening sale on October 17 made £18.8 million hammer against a £30.1 million pre-sale low estimate. they managed to sell 73 per cent of the 62 lots. The majority went for under their low estimates, including the top lot, an Andy Warhol Skull, which was guaranteed and estimated at £5-7 million, it sold to a New York dealer for £3.85 million.

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