The evening sale of the first part of Gerald Fineberg’s collection laid bare the market shift for blue-chip postwar and contemporary art.
With no guarantees or irrevocable bids to prop things up, we saw the market adjust to the broader economic reality. Lot after lot sold for less—sometimes far less—than the presale estimates, which were set months earlier and reflected a more robust market. The auction house and the Fineberg estate agreed to lower the reserves. Savvy collectors, dealers, and advisers saw an opportunity—and went shopping. In the end, 91 percent of the 65 offered lots found buyers despite the fact that the event was sold only 76 percent when comparing its hammer price against the low estimate.
Below, the story by the numbers…
“A Century of Art: The Gerald Fineberg Collection Part I”
- Total Sales After Fees: $153 million
- Lots Sold (Including Guaranteed Lots): 59
- Lots on Offer Before Withdrawals: 65
- Lots Withdrawn Presale: 0
- Lots Bought In: 6
- Sell-through Rate Counting Withdrawals: 91 percent
- Sell-through Rate Excluding Withdrawals: 91 percent
- Hammer Total: $124.7 million
- Presale Low Estimate Before Withdrawals: $163 million
- Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate: -$38.3 million
- Total Low Estimate of Withdrawn Lots: $0
- Total Low Estimate of Guaranteed Lots: $0
- Lots With House Guarantees: 0
- Total Low Estimate of Third-Party Guaranteed Lots: $0
- Lots With Third-Party Guarantees: 0
- Top Seller: Christopher Wool’s 1993 untitled painting spelling “Fuck em if they can’t take the joke,” hammered at $8.4 million (or $10 million with fees). It was estimated at $15 million to $20 million.
- Quote of the Night: “Is there an impact of the macro environment on the art market? Yes,” Christie’s chief executive officer Guillaume Cerutti said after the sale. “That’s the confirmation. We adjusted the reserves to make it work. Is the art market still alive? Yes.
Next up: Sotheby’s evening sale, The Now, on May 18. Check back throughout the week for our continuing coverage of this spring’s sales slate.