Post-War & Contemporary Results (Spring 2011)

The fall Post-War & Contemporary Art season picked up where the spring left off, with continued interest across the sector. The sale season began in October during London’s Frieze week, with 180 lots selling for a combined hammer price of US $102.0 million versus a presale estimate of US $93.8 to US $131.5 million, with 19.6% of the lots going unsold (12.7% by value). It is interesting to observe that bidding was restrained on the highest valued lots, with only a few selling above the top end of the estimate range.
As the season continued, moving to New York in November, the total hammer achieved for the combined 188 lots offered at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips’ evening sales was US $553.9 million versus a presale estimate of US $489.8 to US $699.5 million, with only 8.5% of the lots bought in (9.1% by value). While an impressive 35.8% of the property sold above its high estimate, many of the highest valued lots failed to live up to the auction houses’ expectations – showing that, as in London, the market is healthy but has become acutely attuned to what a work of art is worth, regardless of the auction house estimate.
Works by Calder, Twombly and Richter continued to sell well, as did the 34 works by pop art superstars Warhol and Lichtenstein. 53 of 54 lots offered by these five artists found buyers. The average of the measurable compound an- nual growth rates (CAGRs) was an impressive 17.1%. As Warhol continues to be a hot commodity, it is also interesting to note that his works achieved seven of the ten highest measurable CAGRs for an average of 26.0%.

S2011-Graph 16

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