Sotheby’s Auction on Tuesday a much needed respite
The environment within the saleroom of Sotheby’s on the 28th was charged up to say the least with the turbulent economic impact of Brexit already fading out of the sub conscience and active memory.
Shift, the iconic “body pile” painting by Jenny Saville broke all kinds of records for the artist. Shift was last showcased at the Royal Academy Sensation exhibition (1997) before being bought on Tuesday by Liu Yiqian’s Long Museum for a whopping £6 million. There were four other strong bidders including Larry Gagosian, the respected dealer from US whom the billionaire from China outbid in acquiring the canvas. The work will be showcased in an exhibition in Shanghai titled “She” for international women artists.
In the true charming style associated with Sotheby’s, Oliver Barker, the auctioneer brought down the gavel with a comment “It’s good to see that some British exports are still desirable,” to an emphatic applause.
Though the future repercussions of the Brexit on British exports is yet under speculation, some of the dealers have been predicting a short term upsurge of sale in the British art market owing to the dip in the valuation of pound. Globally, the investors today are looking for a quick refuge in art as an asset, where perceptive collectors would look for some bargains in the current British economic scenario. The decision for Britain to leave EU has had its mark on the art market in this short a span, especially because of its international nature. When looking at any piece in terms of its sterling value the difference since Brexit is noticeably big says Harry Blain, the London dealer. The differences have been recorded as high as 10%.
Looking at the evening sale at Sotheby’s there was some semblance of reassurance as the auction house made a total of £43.9 million in sales alone or £52.2 million if we include the fees with a strong and hopeful 87% sell through rate. However, on the 29th, in the trimmed sale there was a huge 60% drop in value when compared to last year.
In other honorable mentions as a part of the good news column is The Hunted (2010), the baboon and moth painting by Adrian Ghenie that had a high estimate at £600,000. The painting was sold to an anonymous private collector from Asia, over the phone at a whopping £1.6 million at almost three times its estimated value.
As per Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art Europe at Sotheby’s, it is true that in the current ambiguity of the EU referendum it is a tougher task to consign works, however, the numbers and the enthusiasm on the auction night went on to indicate that the passion and love for collecting art surpasses other more prominent economic concerns.
Blain confesses that the British weather this time of the year might be the wettest, England team is out of Euro and Britain has decided to leave EU, but this fated art event and sale at the Sotheby’s was certainly the much needed boost for Britain.