Fair Warning: Lots of Passes, but Sotheby’s Modern Sales Still Bring in $427 Million

Two rare Rene Magritte paintings hang above the fireplace in the Los Angeles living room where music executive Mo Ostin hosted celebrity clients such as Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. was When Ostin began collecting this Belgian surrealist in his 1990s, long before the painter launched his $50 million-plus deal on the world art market. , still had an acquired hobby.

But on Tuesday, bidders competed for more than 15 paintings from the collection collected by Austin, who died last year, and another 54 paintings included in Sotheby’s latest Modern Evening sale, with the art An audience certainly gathered. overnight. Sotheby’s said the figure was below the company’s $500 million estimate, but still the third-highest overnight total ever.

Mo Austin’s property sale was valued at $103.3 million to $155.3 million before the sale, but ultimately brought in $123.7 million. A paradoxical painting from Magritte’s Empire of Light series was sold for 4,230, including the buyer’s commission, after the auctioneer spent 10 minutes trying to attract higher bids from four collectors. It was sold for $10,000. (The artist’s top price was set a year ago at $79.8 million.)

The 1951 work contains motifs that have become synonymous with the author, such as the juxtaposition of bright skies and dark landscapes. Another painting completed two years ago, The Realms of Arnheim, sold for $19 million and was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s story of the same name.

But the auction lacked speed, and some collectors and analysts on the sales floor agreed that the decline in speculative bidding and rising interest rates was hurting business. After a late bid for the Austin Collection, Sotheby’s announced it was withdrawing six lots from the Modern Evening Sale (83 percent of the works were sold, but eight were carried over). It’s been a long time since this day last spring when the second part of the exemplary work began. Macklow Collection Raises $246 million Alongside $408 million in the Modern Evening Sale.

“They were struggling more than I expected,” contemporary art collector Max Dorzisser said on Tuesday. He came in to bid on a Picasso painting at an Austin sale on Tuesday evening, but eventually gave up on the bid.

“I’m looking at other things,” he reasoned. “I think there will be a lot of cautious bids tonight.”

For this reason, these sales increases are highly planned. Guaranteed lots are essentially pre-sold to buyers who have promised to pay an undisclosed minimum price, but are not finalized until the sale is near, with shippers still looking to hedge their bets in an uncertain market. It is shown that.

“Buyers in the post-war and contemporary art markets were comfortable borrowing against their own assets when they had access to capital at low interest rates,” says art adviser Doug, a former Christie’s executive. Woodham said higher interest rates could triple the market price. Blank for collectors. “People are hesitating to bid.”

Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s chairman and head of global art sales, said he had heard similar concerns from buyers. “Money is not free now,” she said. “It affects how people spend their money and think about how they allocate their assets.”

But there were still moments of surprise. Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi has set a high standard with his Modern Evening Sale, an outdoor sculpture on a granite column called “The Family.” Two collectors fought it out, but the winning bid was $12.3 million, less the buyer’s fee, nearly double the lowest price of the work. $6 million.

Another highlight of the sale was the rare 1902 painting ‘Island of the Attersee’ by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. The winning bid for this glittering seaside scene was his $53.2 million, beating his $45 million estimate.

“It really shows how Klimt was at the forefront of abstraction,” said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s chairman and head of global art sales, in a pre-auction interview with Claude Monet’s paintings. Mentioned how artists developed their style before epoch-making water. Yuri series after a few years. “It turns out that Klimt was on the same path.”

The art market remains uncertain, with several auctions remaining this week. “The market is quiet,” Woodham said, observing that the bids were stingy in $50,000 increments, rather than the $10 million skyrocketing Gonzo of old. “Buyers are unusually price sensitive, so the market is trying to find an equilibrium.”

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