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Sotheby's Stock Drops Sharply After Disappointing Auction.--

Some are wondering whether the art market has peaked after a weak night at auction last night:

High-profile impressionist paintings failed to sell at auction at Sotheby's in New York prompting fears that art's dizzy boom could be nearing an end.

Works by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir went unsold at Sotheby's sale of Impressionist and modern art last night although the sale of less expensive works resulted in £128.8 million of art going under the hammer.

The total was much less than the auction's low pre-sale estimate of £170 million and far less than the £235 million top estimate.

Van Gogh's The Fields (Wheat Fields), thought to be the last landscape ever painted by the Dutch artist, was expected to fetch in excess of £20 million. But the 1890 work received no bids. . . .

Four paintings by Picasso, including his landmark 1931 masterpiece La Lampe that came onto the market directly from the artist's family, failed to sell. Typifying the uncertainty, works by Renoir, Matisse, Monet and Chagall all went under the hammer last night while other paintings by the artists remained unsold. Twenty out of the 76 lots failed to find a buyer. . . .

"The Van Gogh painting not selling is a huge shock," said one European art dealer speaking on conditions of anonymity.

"This gives more indication that the art boom is on course to be another casualty of the global economic downturn in which case maybe we should all go and do something else for a few years."


(click to enlarge Van Gogh)

Sotheby's stock dropped more than 30% in the first 15 minutes of trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning [links added].

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's Goes Well.--
  2. Sotheby's Stock Drops Sharply After Disappointing Auction.--
WHOI Jacket:
I'll take the Renoir off their hands, if the discount is right.
11.8.2007 10:07am
Norman Pfyster:
Global economic downturn? What planet is this guy living on? Planet Hedge Fund?
11.8.2007 11:44am
Cornellian (mail):
I like that Van Gogh but it's a bit outside my price range.
11.8.2007 11:45am
Ghost of Van Gogh:
I really could have used the money, too.
11.8.2007 1:32pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Their lede is misleading. Of the named painters, only Renoir is an Impressionist.
11.8.2007 1:33pm
Le Messurier (mail):
Tony Tutins

What's Van Gogh, a cubist? Ok, he's a "Post-Impressionist", but close enough for lede.
11.8.2007 1:40pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Monet, also named, is usually called an Impressionist.
11.8.2007 2:05pm
oh please (mail):
Um, Tony, if you don't know that Monet is considered an Impressionist, could you please not comment?
Have you ever seen any of the Water Lillies, for God's sake?
11.8.2007 4:11pm
dew:
Monet, also named, is usually called an Impressionist.

I will guess this is a wry understatement, since the very term impressionist came from a Monet painting (Impression, Sunrise).
11.8.2007 4:14pm
Cato:
A client asked two weeks ago whether I knew anyone who might be interested in a Caravaggio at $70 mil.

No, I don't. Especially not now.
11.8.2007 4:29pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Um, Tony, if you don't know that Monet is considered an Impressionist, could you please not comment?
Have you ever seen any of the Water Lillies, for God's sake?

For a statement to be true, every element of the statement must be true:

High-profile impressionist paintings failed to sell at auction at Sotheby's in New York prompting fears that art's dizzy boom could be nearing an end.

The Monet mentioned in the article sold back in June, when the boom was still booming, not "last night."
11.8.2007 4:37pm
gifted:
See, this is what happens when you tax the rich. They can't buy 20 million paintings, and so all the poor people running the auction house starve to death.
11.8.2007 5:25pm
John Robinson (mail):
"See, this is what happens when you tax the rich. They can't buy 20 million paintings, and so all the poor people running the auction house starve to death."

Or, anyone who owns stock in Sotheby's loses 30%.
11.8.2007 6:59pm
Dan Bongard (mail):
I realize I probably sound like a lowbrow American with no taste in fine art -- which, hey, I am -- but that Van Gogh painting looks to me like a third-grader painted it. I can't see paying $20 for it, let alone $20 million.
11.8.2007 8:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Dan -- the value of the painting comes from its being painted by Van Gogh. Those wheat fields were all that he could see from his bedroom window in the insane asylum -- his deteriorated mental and physical condition explain the way it looks.
11.9.2007 2:48am