Private Collections and the 09 Art Market –

Private Collections and the 09 Art Market –


Mr and Mrs Warner

There have not been any major auctions of art yet this year but the auctions that have been conducted are already giving clues as to what to expect in 2009. Two auctions of single owner private collections were conducted in January both of which were very successful considering the art market correction and financial downturn. These two auctions were not dedicated art auctions as the people who owned each of the collections collected a range of antiques and other objects but they did include some art. Even though the auctions were not dedicated art auctions, the similarities in the market for antiques, collectibles and art means we can quite often use a sale of items from one market as an indicator of buyer behavior, buyer sentiment and market trends in another market.  Two January sales – one at Sotheby’s and one at Christie’s – gave good indications of what characteristics are attracting buyers at the moment.

The first sale was the sale of the private collection of the late Roger Warner by Christies on the 20th and 21st of January.  According to Christie’s,  Warner was one of the most renowned and admired British antique dealers of the 20th century as well as a major collector.  What makes Warner’s collection even more enticing is the fact that he kept a meticulous record of the provenance of each item that he purchased.  The best items from Warner’s collection which amounted to 640 lots were included in the sale and were expected to fetch a total of around 800,000 pounds.  When all was said and done the sale had generated more than double it’s estimate reaching a total of over 2,0000,000 pounds .

The second sale was the single-owner sale of the Property of Dr. and Mrs. Henry C. Landon III which took place on the 24th of January at Sotheby’s in New York.  Dr. and Mrs. Henry C. Landon III’s collection had been profiled in several publications and had been the subject of an exhibition at the University of Virginia Art Museum. The sale, part of Sotheby’s Americana Week Sales, comprised of American furniture, objects of decorative art as well as some paintings but it was the rare and important pieces of furniture that attracted the most interest. The auction was a big success with 95% sold by lot.

These two sales prove once again that the market for antiques and art is still very receptive to provenance, rarity, quality and market freshness.  The same trend was evident towards the end of 2008 with several single owner collections going under the hammer and achieving excellent results that defied the generally poor results being experienced all over the world. You can read the two posts that I wrote on the single owner collection sales at the end of 2008 here:

Single Owner Auctions Defy Downturn:

Single Owner Art Sale Success Part 2:

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

2 Responses

  1. Dear Nicholas,

    I have been reading your articles about art market in Australia, and I was wondering if is possible for you t help me to gather some information about Chinese contemporary art in Australia.
    I’m a master of museums studies student at Macquarie University, and I’m doing a research project about this particular subject.

    If you have any information at all, I’ll appreciate your help.

    Kind regards,

    Camila Tellez

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