Art auction houses test the market

Marketplace Staff Nov 3, 2009
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Art auction houses test the market

Marketplace Staff Nov 3, 2009
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Bill Radke: The art auction season begins in New York tonight with a big sale at Christie’s. As Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson tells us, some aspects of the art auction world are going, going, gone.


Robert Manley: These are the kinds of pictures that moved the center of the art world from Paris to New York.

JEREMY HOBSON: Robert Manley is head of the post-war and contemporary art department at Christie’s. He says tonight’s auction features some big ticket works by Matisse, Degas and Picasso. But its mainly fill with less expensive works. Christie’s expects the sale to bring in just $68 million — compared to more than $200 million in previous years.

MANLEY: You’re not seeing the paintings that are $15, 20, 30, 50 million. For the most part, the works in our sale are under $6 million.

Another thing largely absent this year is a guarantee. That is, the auction house guarantees the seller a minimum amount of money for a blockbuster item.

Marion Manaker, who runs the Art Market Monitor, says don’t expect auction houses to return to those days anytime soon.

MARION MANEKER: They’ve gone through a lot of pain and cost-cutting over the last year. I think the last thing they want to do is rush headlong into another arms-race over guarantees.

But Maneker and Manley both say the art market has found a bottom.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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