On eve of New York auctions, newer works seen driving the boom

Mon May 6, 2013 2:07am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With a billion dollars worth of art on offer at their spring auctions in New York, Christie's and Sotheby's are looking to the post-war and contemporary works to drive the market this month.

The sales of the newer works are expected to exceed those of the once-dominant Impressionist and modern field by anywhere from 50 to 100 percent, according to estimates.

While both Christie's and Sotheby's have a pair of Impressionist or modern paintings valued at $20 million or $30 million-range, both houses' contemporary sales feature at least three works that are expected to fetch $30 million to $40 million, and possibly more.

Records are likely to fall for artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Gerhard Richter, who already holds the record price for a work by any living artist at auction.

"The supply of $30-million-plus paintings and high-quality material is far greater than what you can find in the Impressionist and modern field," said Brett Gorvy, Christie's worldwide chairman of post-war and contemporary art.

"There's also a very strong taste for 20th and 21st century works which is very global, and has probably increased more in recent years, than it has for other categories."

Gorvy added that a strong cycle like the one that started in 2010 brings in new collectors and drives up prices.


Visitors view Gerhard Richter's 'Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan)' (L), oil on canvas and executed in 1968, estimated between $30-40 million, and Francis Bacon's 'Study for Portrait of P.L.' dated 1962 and estimated $30-40 million, during a preview of Sotheby's May 14 Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Sotheby's in New York, May 3, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar