May 21, 2024

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Art auctions reach $2 billion in New York

Art auctions reach $2 billion in New York

Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, Basquiat, Rothko and…the legendary Ferrari sports car. Art auctions in New York exceeded two billion dollars in one week, in a market in great shape despite the international crises.

Industry giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s, as well as Phillips, ended the fall auction season on Friday, which began on November 7.

According to an Agence France-Presse count based on data from homes, sales reached $2.1 billion during the season, thanks to the masterpieces of modern and contemporary art that were offered at auctions in which anonymous collectors and wealthy buyers participated in the rooms and over the phone.

Jean-Paul Engelin, Philips’ president for the Americas, on Friday announced the “second-highest overall result in Philips history,” with revenue reaching $155 million, 11% higher than in November 2022.

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The businessman considered this “a sign of confidence in a healthy global market.”

Phillips sold a large contemporary work by German artist Gerhard Richter, “Abstraktes Bild (636)” (Abstract Picture, 1987), for $34.8 million, and “Le 14 juillet” (July 14, 1912-13), by cubist Fernand Léger. For 17.6 million.

But it was the Sotheby’s auction house, owned by French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, that achieved the best result ever with sales of $1.1 billion.

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Pablo Picasso’s painting “Femme à la montre” (Woman with a Watch, 1932) sold for $139 million, the second highest price achieved by the Spanish artist, who died 50 years ago.

The huge painting “Self-Portrait in High Heels (Part II)”, by American Jean-Michel Basquiat, was sold at auction for $42 million, “Peupliers au bord de l’Epte, temps couvert” (“Poplars on the banks of the Epte, cloudy “). “The Weather” (1891), by the French Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, reached $30.7 million, and “Untitled” (1968), by the American painter Mark Rothko, was acquired by an anonymous bidder in the room for $23.8 million.

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Sotheby’s pulled off a major publicity coup with the “holy grail of the sports car gods,” a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold for $51.7 million, the second most expensive car ever sold at auction.

Its main competitor, Christie’s – owned by Artemis, the holding company of French billionaire François Pinault – received a total of $864 million. This, according to its head of the Americas, Bonnie Brennan, is a sign of a “strong market response.”

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Among the most notable works negotiated were “Le bassin aux nymphéas” (The Water Lily Pond, 1917-1919) by Frenchman Claude Monet, for $74 million, along with three paintings by Paul Cézanne – including “Fruits etpot de gingembre” ( Fruits and pot of ginger). Ginger Jar, 1890-1893), for approximately $39 million, for the Langmatt Museum in Baden (Switzerland), sparking a minor controversy in that country due to a sale deemed speculative.

The painting “The Musicians” by the recently deceased Colombian artist Fernando Botero also achieved a record at Christie’s auction with $5.1 million.

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With the war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza, as well as rising global inflation as a backdrop, the art market, led by China and Asia, shows “no signs” of slowing down, Kelsey Reed Leonard, head of the contemporary art department, told AFP. At Sotheby’s Auction House at the beginning of the season.

On the contrary, Reid Leonard asserted that there is “stronger demand than ever.”

One expert in this sector, who preferred to remain anonymous, considered it “natural” for “financial speculators” to invest in art and luxury goods, in light of geopolitical crises and inflation.

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By 2022, auction houses had broken all records, with global auctions and private sales totaling more than $16 billion.