After a two-month period of uncertainty, the contemporary art market woke up during the second week of November with some skyrocketing prices fetched at auction in New York but buyers were however somewhat selective.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, collectors have been looking mainly for American art pieces and notably colourful subjects. Therefore the trend has had mainly an American taste.
On Monday 12th, Phillips' sale totalled $ 8,3 million against an overall estimate of $ 13 million with 74% of lots sold. The main victim of the day was Jeff Koons whose porcelain work titled “Fait d'Hiver” estimated between $ 1,5 and 2,5 million was unsold at $ 1,1 million.
Koons' “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” of 1988 and “Pink Panther with the Cicciolina” had sold for $ 5,6 million and $ 1,8 million respectively at Christie's in 1999 and Sotheby's last May but many observers had more than once warned that such prices were quite overrated. Apparently, the message went through on that particular day which did not augur well for the rest of the week.
Phillips was particularly penalised with this unsold Koons work as it had offered a
$ 2 million guarantee to its owner, the Zurich-based art dealer Bruno Bischofberger.
Another Koons' work titled “New Hoover Convertibles” (1984) only fetched
$ 367 500.
Christies' sale on November 13th was rather disappointing as its total turnover of
$ 25,1 million was well under its lowest overall estimate of $ 31,6 million.
However “Holly” by Warhol and “Woman” by Willem de Kooning both fetched
$ 2,09 million while Hans Richter's “Chart painting” sold for $ 1,7 million. Georg Baselitz' “Der Hirte” (1966) caused a surprise with a record $ 1,1 million bid.