In a dazzling display of resilience, art auctions in New York have surged past the $2 billion mark in a week, showcasing the robustness of the market despite ongoing international crises. Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips concluded their fall auction season on Friday, tallying up sales of $2.1 billion.
Phillips, led by Jean-Paul Engelen, reported the “second-highest total result in Phillips’ history,” with revenues reaching $155 million, reflecting an 11% increase from November 2022. Phillips successfully auctioned contemporary masterpieces, including Gerhard Richter’s “Abstraktes Bild (636)” for $34.8 million and Fernand Léger’s “Le 14 juillet” for $17.6 million.
Sotheby’s, owned by the Franco-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, emerged as the top performer, ranking in $1.1 billion. The highlight was Pablo Picasso’s “Femme à la montre,” fetching an impressive $139 million, marking the second-highest price ever for the Spanish master, who passed away half a century ago. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s monumental “Autorretrato de tacón (Parte II)” sold for $42 million, Paul Cézanne’s “Peupliers au bord de l’Epte, temps couvert” for $30.7 million, and Mark Rothko’s “Sin título” for $23.8 million.
Sotheby’s also orchestrated a notable automotive sale, featuring the “Holy Grail of the Sports Car Pantheon,” a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which fetched $51.7 million, becoming the second most expensive car ever sold at auction.
Christie’s, owned by François Pinault’s Artémis, achieved a total of $864 million, signaling a robust market response, according to Bonnie Brennan, Christie’s president for the Americas. Highlights included Claude Monet’s “Le bassin aux nymphéas,” selling for $74 million, and three paintings by Paul Cézanne, including “Fruits et pot de gingembre,” raising almost $39 million for the Langmatt Museum in Baden, Switzerland.
Despite global geopolitical tensions and soaring inflation, the art market, driven by China and Asia, shows no signs of slowing down. Kelsey Reed Leonard, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Head, emphasized a “stronger than ever” demand, contradicting expectations of a slowdown in the art sector amidst crisis.
The expertly curated auctions, featuring works from Picasso to a legendary Ferrari, underscore the enduring allure of art as a robust investment, even in challenging times. In 2022, the global auction and private sales market set records, surpassing $16 billion.