Monthly Benchmark

[21 Jul 2002]

High-profile auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in the US usually make May the eagerly awaited highlight of the early year art season. And results at the impressionist and modern sales certainly hit the headlines. No one will forget the all-time record price paid for a sculpture, Brancusi’s « Danaide », which went for USD16.5m on 7 May 2002.

But while rising prices and record prices make the news, behind the scenes sales volumes have actually been falling. Global turnover was down 32.21% on May 2001. Total receipts at the market’s leading auction houses, traditionally stimulated by their prestigious New York sales, have slumped this year because of a significant fall in the number of lots put up for auction.
In the US, collectors have been rushing to buy those pieces that are offered. Bought-ins are unusually low, and prices still rising. In Europe, though, not only are fewer lots coming up for auction but bought-ins have risen. This more selective approach by buyers is part of the reason turnover is down by 55.6% in France and 63.4% in Germany on the same period last year. Fortunately, over the last few months the bought-ins ratio looks to have stabilized. But in May, less than 64% of lots found a buyer.

True, some sellers have noted the rise in prices and are looking to cash in. Perhaps, though, they should think about revising their reserve prices if they want to arouse the interest of potential buyers.

Trends for the last 6 months Turnover Prices of art works Lots sold Bought in lots  Legend
Increase Stable Decraese
Bought in lots [may]   Percentage
of bought in lots Growth rate
compared to April 2001 United States 17,35%  -26,86%  United Kingdom 31,89%  +17,66%  France 35,71%  +14,81%  Germany 39,85%  +21,73%  Other countries 42,44%  +42,18%  Total 36,57%  +24,38%  Turnover [may]   In USD Growth rate
compared to April 2001 United States 418,043,537  -32,05%  United Kingdom 21,802,686  -23,81%  France 10,006,010  -35,13%  Germany 5,564,625  -60,30%  Other countries 55,141,581  -30,90%  Total 510,558,439  -32,21%  Lots sold [may]   Number of lots Growth rate
compared to April 2001 United States 4,129  -33,83%  United Kingdom 2,529  -28,72%  France 2,472  -55,80%  Germany 2,400  -63,34%  Other countries 10,151  -42,74%  Total 14,716  -45,32%  Top 5 artists having reached their highest auction price [may] Hammer price Artist Date Auctioneer Place

EUR 17 971 800

Constantin BRANCUSI

07-may-02

Christie’s

New-York

EUR 12 525 800

René MAGRITTE

07-may-02

Christie’s

New-York

EUR 8 412 250

Juan GRIS

08-may-02

Sotheby’s

New-York

EUR 5 487 000

Jean-Michel BASQUIAT

14-may-02

Christie’s

New-York

EUR 4 892 850

Norman Perceval ROCKWELL

22-may-02

Sotheby’s

New-York

TOP 5 auction sales of fine art [may] Sale turnover Auctioneer Place of sale Theme of sale Date USD 114 115 000 Sotheby’s New-York Impressionist and Modern Art (Part I) 08-may-02 USD 88 485 000 Christie’s New-York Impressionist and Modern Art (Evening Sale) 07-may-02 USD 41 795 000 Christie’s New-York Contemporary Art 14-may-02 USD 38 455 000 Sotheby’s New-York Contemporary Art (Part I) 15-may-02 USD 28 995 500 Sotheby’s New-York American Art 22-may-02 Top 5 contemporary artists newly sold at auction [may] Artist Turnover Place of sale Date

Toba KHEDOORI (1964)

EUR 60 357

New-York

14-may-02

Darren ALMOND (1971)

EUR 27 398

New-York

16-may-02

Michael RAEDECKER (1963)

EUR 18 630

New-York

16-may-02

Daniel BOTTERO (1950)

EUR 18 175

New-York

30-may-02

Ricardo MAZAL (1950)

EUR 17 229

New-York

29-may-02