Fall American Art Auction Results (12/08/11)

Despite a handful of exceptional results, the American art market remains sluggish. Sotheby’s and Christie’s most recent sales of American art combined for a total hammer of $42,437,000 ($50,364,300 with premium), against a pre-sale estimate of $46,162,000 to $68,318,000.

32.8% of the lots offered by the two houses failed to sell. In terms of pre-sale estimated value, 36.7% of what was offered remained unsold. On average, the sold lots only achieved prices 29.7% above their low estimate.

None of the artists consistently outperformed their estimates (perhaps one exception is Elie Nadelman, whose two lots, both at Sotheby’s, sold for above their high estimates). Arguably the strongest performer of the sales was Marsden Hartley. His two highest valued lots both exceeded their high estimates. However, on all five other works by him offered in the sales, bidding failed to reach the low estimate. The two weakest performers seem to have been Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase. None of the works by either of the artists sold.

Below is a graphical breakdown of the auctions:

American Art 1
American Art 2

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