The art market, that playpen of the uber rich, has given a sober response to the election of Donald Trump as president of the US. In the first auction since the election, Sotheby’s sold a little over half of what it did in the same auction last year.
Sotheby’s took in $157.7 million in its Impressionist and Modern auction on Monday, compared with $306.7 million in 2015. And despite Sotheby’s promises to cut back on the guarantees (see my story linked below), the New York Times is reporting that “Guarantees are shoring up Sotheby’s sales; its contemporary art auction on Wednesday will feature more than 30 such minimum prices.”
I’m a huge van of Edvard Munch, whose emotionalism and depression seem so appropriate for our times. I was thrilled to see that the top sale Monday was for his 1902 painting, “Girl on a Bridge” ( see above). But even it was simply a pre-arranged sale in the form of a guarantee.
Meanwhile, investor and board member Dan Loeb has to be unhappy that the Sotheby’s downtrend is continuing; it lost $54.5 million in the third quarter, more than triple the $17.9 million loss for the same period a year ago.
My article on the art market slump in this Fortune piece in the Oct. 1 issue explains the forces at play.