Hard Art Market Data Tells Real Story – artmarketblog.com

Hard Art Market Data Tells Real Story – artmarketblog.com

Dissecting Christie’s Feb 09 Art Auction Pt. 3

See part one here:


See part two here:


numbersA few weeks ago I posted details of the sold lots from the Christie’s February 2009 Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale along with details relating to previous auction sale activity for each sold lot.  The reason that I did this was to show that there is usually far more to a sale than the sold by lot and sold by value percentages will tell you which is definitely the case with the Christie’s February 2009 Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale.  One of the more interesting lots was “Dans la prairie”‘ by Monet which fetched £11,241,250 against an estimate of around £15 million pounds.  Although this work failed to reach it’s estimate it did sell for slightly more than the last time it appeared at auction in 1999 but was well down on the £14,300,000 that it fetched at auction in 1988.

Overall, 83% of lots were sold by number and 88% sold by value for a total of £63.4 million pounds which doesn’t appear to be too bad considering the current state of the art market but doesn’t appear too good when compared with the £105,372,000 realised at the same sale in 2008. To get a real sense of how the auction went one needs to look at a more complete set of data. Using the data that I collected of the 47 lots that were offered:
-39 were sold
-5 sold for less than the last time they were sold at auction
-9 sold for more than the last time they were sold at auction
-24 had no previous auction sale data which means that they had either never been sold at auction or had not been sold for a considerable amount of time (20+ years)
-1 had been previously sold at auction but had failed to sell
-3 sold below estimate
-22 sold within estimate
-14 sold above estimate

What we can tell from this information is that the success of the auction may be partly due to the high percentage of works that were fresh to market (ie. have not appeared on the market for 20+ years). Most auction result databases such as artprice.com only go back 20 years at most which means that if there is no record of a work appearing at auction it has either never appeared at auction before or has not appeared for a long period of time.

Different journalists and media sources will often portray differing opinions relating to the success of auction sales which doesn’t really help anyone. The reason that I conducted this analysis is to show exactly what sort of hard data relating to the success of an auction can be freely obtained and used to form a clear and precise picture of the sale.

I, myself am definitely a numbers person. Facts, figures and information get me excited which is why I focus on the art market as opposed to critiquing art.  It is all well and good to provide an opinion about the state of the art market or the success of the auction but if you can’t back up that opinion with data then that opinion doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to provide some form of entertainment.  In the end, facts, figures and information tell the true story……………….

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

4 Responses

  1. Blogging is an Art. You have to show your quick learning and thinking abilities.
    I have posted a similar article which may help you too.


    Most of the cases, ppl just create a blog, keep posting for first few months.
    Then leave away. You can practice my 5 Tips too. I think it will be helpful for u.

    You are welcome to share your thinking at my article.

  2. Your analysis is interesting, but unless I have misread, fails to take into consideration: Estimates are given without commission, prices stated are with commission, inflation, the lack of work for sale, that commission is now higher than used to be, and at finally the quality of the lot offered. If we compare this sale with the quality and prices achieved in Paris, I at least, find this sale to be a clear sign of an art market in free fall. Especially since art market money will find its way into older, more time proven art, at times like this, one could have hoped for a significantly better result at an impressionist/ modern art sale.

  3. Hi NorArt,
    Thanks for the comment. The reason that I used the sale price including buyers premium as opposed to the hammer price is because the hammer price would have taken much longer to calculate. Christie’s publish their results including buyers premium which means that I would have had to calculate what the buyers premium was for each work and then subtract that amount to get the hammer price. The reason for this post was to show what information is available and not so much to actually analyse this auction. I will, however, add a comment to the end of the post explaining this so that there is no more confusion



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: