October holds a special significance as it marks the transition from summer to the crucial fall events. This month witnessed significant milestones such as Frieze celebrating its 20th anniversary and Paris+ marking its second year. Although the London marquee auctions displayed lackluster results, the subsequent print sales in New York offered a delightful recovery. In our October newsletter, we provide a comprehensive overview of the recent art market developments, offer insights into the upcoming November sales, and share other exciting news from the art world.
October is an eventful month for art fairs. This year October kicked off with Frieze's 20th-anniversary celebration at Regent's Park, London. However reviews centred around mega galleries at the fair dedicating their booths displays to blue chip known names. Gagosian’s booth featuring a new series by Damien Hirst did not go unnoticed, or unscathed. This trend was evident both at the fair and in concurrent evening auctions, highlighting a shift in investor preferences towards established names during current economic conditions.
In contrast, Paris+ garnered positive reviews, drawing enthusiastic crowds and early sales. While comparisons between the fairs are inevitable, MyArtBroker looks forward to a collaborative future where both mega-fairs can mutually benefit from their close proximity. If a comparison must be made, Paris's impressive exhibition lineup, featuring artists like Mark Rothko, Peter Doig, and Mike Kelley, enhanced its appeal over London. Although, Frieze week in London remains an exciting time for the art world, marked by gallery openings, auctions, and our latest print report release, The Market’s Most Wanted 2023. While Paris exudes timeless charm, matching London's fierce transactional status might take time.
Additionally, the return of the iFPDA print fair in New York underscored the rising influence of prints in the art market. As experts in the field, we emphasise the competitive edge prints offer in pricing and their unique ability to provide accurate fair market value comparisons due to their editioned status. This quality makes prints highly attractive to a wide range of buyers. In our Q4 assessment of the May marquee auctions, we predicted prints gaining traction due to the economic climate, and we are pleased to see these results confirming our analysis.
In the art market, the spring and fall months hold immense significance. Fall signals the initiation of Q4 sales in the auction calendar, commencing in early October in London. Sotheby’s led the marquee sales, followed by Christie’s and Phillips over the next three days. Regrettably, these sales fell short of expectations, with each one performing below the presale estimates, except for Sotheby’s The Now sale, which only had one withdrawn work and one unsold, far less than the other sales. Notable sales included Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes (1980) in vibrant pink, fetching over £3 million at Sotheby’s. Banksy’s Forgive Us Our Trespassing (2011) dominated Phillips sale, selling for £2.7 million, while the top performing lot across all of the evening sales was Jean-Michel Basquiat's Future Sciences Versus The Man (1982), which sold for £10.4 million at Christie’s.
Read our full auction report covering the London October marquee sales here.
ArtTactic reported that the 2023 London marquee sales were down 28% compared to 2022. This decrease can be directly linked to valuable lots either remaining unsold or being withdrawn from sales because auction houses struggled to find buyers–a pattern that underscores a desire for art acquisition, albeit at the right price given the current economic conditions. It also explains the strong performance of day sales, where artworks are offered at more reasonable prices, providing a more accurate reflection of market trends. Notably, Warhol's rare canvas of Hollywood actress Pia Zadora achieved £371,700 (with fees), ranking as the fourth highest lot across all day sales. Combined, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips generated a total of £112 million (hammer) across their October, Post War and Contemporary, evening and day sales.
Following the marquee sales, the print auctions in New York showcased more exciting results with four sales presented over two weeks at the major auction houses, concluding with Bonhams. The results of these sales reflected the blue chip males dominating the art market this year: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring and David Hockney.
Rare lesser-known series from Hockney emerged, such as The Weather series, presented as individual works at Sotheby’s. What’s intriguing about this series is that many pieces had been absent from the secondary market for up to five years, making them exceptionally rare finds. Lightning (1973) and Wind (1973) both sold for $25,400 (with fees), setting new records. Haring’s Andy Mouse series is also trending, with records set for both Andy Mouse 2 (1986) at Sotheby’s and Andy Mouse 1 (1986) at Bonhams. Also noteworthy, is the sale of the complete set of this series selling at Heritage Auctions on 24 October for $945,000 (with fees) becoming the highest selling print work for all of October.
Lichtenstein delivered an outstanding performance at Phillips, highlighting the demand for his Nudes series. An Artist Proof of Nude With Yellow Pillow (1994) fetched $546,100 (with fees), becoming the star lot and setting a new record. Additionally, Warhol’s works excelled across all sales. Trending and in demand series include works from: Ten Portraits of Jews, Cowboys and Indians, Ladies and Gentlemen and Endangered Species. Furthermore, Moonwalk Suite (1987) made appearances at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, outperforming itself in each consecutive sale and emerging as the top-performing lot in both auctions.
Overall, a total of four print sales, across four auction houses, collectively generated $19.6 million (USD), with 900 lots sold compared to the 464 lots sold in the marquee evening sales. The print sales showed a higher hammer ratio than the marquee sales. Although the print sales had more lots sold, a lower hammer ratio indicates that a significant number of lots did not meet the average presale estimates. This suggests a keen interest in acquiring artworks within the specific price ranges offered by the print sales.
Read our full auction report covering the October print sales here.
October also brings high anticipation for the second round of Q4 marquee evening sales in early November in New York. This round of sales is under significant scrutiny due to the pivotal performance of the New York Spring sales, which similar to October’s performance, showed a decline compared to the previous year. Achieving at least a matching performance this round would be considered promising. The catalogues for the evening sales are now live, and we're observing another battle of the Basquiat's, with Untitled (1981) valued at $10 million - $15 million at Christie’s and Self-Portrait As A Heel (Part Two) (1982) valued at $40 million - $60 million at Sotheby’s. In Q2, we released our American Pop Report with a comprehensive section dedicated to Basquiat’s booming market this year and we are eager to see the resulting trajectory.
In addition to the evening sales, each auction house will present a day sale. Our focus is on the complete set of Endangered Species at Christie’s valued at $2 million - $3 million. This set features matching edition numbers, indicating strong potential performance, aligning with the overall trend of complete sets this year.
Throughout October, there has been consistent demand for artworks by Damien Hirst and David Hockney. While demand for Andy Warhol prints dipped slightly from the previous month, this decline is likely attributed to his significant presence in auction sales. However, auctions, while enticing, do not offer the level of control that online buying and selling can provide, creating a more favourable experience for both buyers and sellers. Notably, there has been a surge in demand for works by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as a noticeable uptick in interest for Bridget Riley prints. One striking observation from the auction sales is the absence of women artists, a trend that has not gone unnoticed.
Exciting art market stories for October include celebrations commemorating Roy Lichtenstein’s 100th birthday on October 27, marked by a series of stamps featuring five of his iconic works, a collaboration between the Whitney Museum & USPS. Additionally, Lichtenstein's renowned Bauhaus Stairway Mural is currently exhibited at Gagosian in New York until December 2022. With Lichtenstein's works set to be featured in the upcoming November marquee evening and day sales, keen attention is on the impact these events might have.
Meanwhile, Jean-Michel Basquiat's Estate is launching 50 vinyl copies of the late artist’s “Beat Bop,’’ with proceeds from the first record’s sale directed toward youth arts education. This limited edition is available via Phillips’ Dropshop for $4,000 USD each, with the remaining copies scheduled for release in December through the King Pleasure exhibition store. Basquiat, known for his strong influence on branded consumerism, is explored further in a podcast episode where our commissioning editor Erin Argun engages in a conversation with Richard Polsky, delving into the world of blue chip artists, their enduring legacies, and consumer culture.
In another artistic venture, Damien Hirst has introduced a new drop in collaboration with HENI, featuring 900 unique original paintings on card, showcasing the vibrant imagery from his Cherry Blossoms series. This release aligns with his retrospective in Munich, a brief exhibition showcasing a diverse selection of his works, including iconic pieces like his diamond-encrusted skull and animals preserved in formaldehyde, spanning a remarkable 40-year period.
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