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New York gears up for major Spring auctions after soft 2023

At Sotheby's, the jewel in the sale crown is a Francis Bacon portrait estimated at $30-50 million
At Sotheby's, the jewel in the sale crown is a Francis Bacon portrait estimated at $30-50 million - Copyright AFP TIMOTHY A. CLARY
At Sotheby's, the jewel in the sale crown is a Francis Bacon portrait estimated at $30-50 million - Copyright AFP TIMOTHY A. CLARY
Ana FERNANDEZ

New York’s major auction houses were preparing for the start of their all-important Spring sales on Monday even as Christie’s came under a cyberattack that affected its website.

After a drop in sales in 2023, there is hope among the hammer-wielders that good results in Europe so far this year will be repeated stateside. 

David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Leonora Carrington, Joan Mitchell, Brice Marden, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alberto Giacometti, Georgia O’Keeffe are among the prominent artists on offer when Sotheby’s gets the season underway on Monday.

Christie’s and Phillips follow Tuesday. 

There will be no shortage of works by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso in the increasingly globalized market which is still dominated by US collectors. 

Christie’s, which confirmed it was the victim of a cyberattack on its systems, including the website, expects to bring in between $578 million and $846 million for the sale of some 900 works. 

“A technology security issue has impacted some of our systems, including our website. We are taking all necessary steps to manage this matter,” a Christie’s spokeswoman told AFP.

Sotheby’s is setting the bar slightly higher than last year, hoping to fetch between $549 million and $784 million.

“The market is honestly more defined by supply than it is by demand, we’re having no difficulty selling things, we’re having more difficulty getting people to consign them,” said Sotheby’s head of contemporary art sales Lucius Elliott.

– 14 percent drop –

With sales of $14.9 billion last year, the art market saw a 14 percent drop compared to 2022, although online transactions saw a 285 percent jump. 

Unlike Sotheby’s, which has put together the more than 700 works it offers for sale, piece by piece, Christie’s most prominent works come from two private collections. 

One of those collections belonged to late television pioneer Norman Lear and his wife Lyn, with David Hockney’s “A Lawn Being Sprinkled” worth an estimated between $25 million and $35 million, among the stand-out pieces. 

“There are probably fewer collections this season than there have been historically for idiosyncratic reasons, but we have great collections (which) will be on the market this season again,” said Christie’s vice president Max Carter, adding that the March sales in London were among the highest ever.

At Sotheby’s, the jewel in the sale crown is a Francis Bacon portrait with an estimate of $30 million to $50 million. 

It is the first large-scale painting Bacon did of his then-partner George Dyer in 1966 and the first of ten works he did of the latter before he died on the eve of his death.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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