Christie's $301m vs Sotheby's $128m

May 12 2011

Image of Christie's $301m vs Sotheby's $128m

Picture: Christie's

Ouch - Christie's trounced Sotheby's last night in the New York post-war and contemporary evening sales.

Bloomberg has a video about the Sotheby's sale, which they call 'tepid'. It had the lowest total for two years. Contributor Katya Kazakina said that 'the estimates were too aggressive for the quality of works Sotheby's had'.  

The patchy results indicate continuing uncertainty at the top end of the contemporary market. At Christie's, some of the big ticket things went at around, or less, than the lower estimate. Warhol's 1986 self-portrait, above, made $27.5m, including premium, which means that bidding in the room didn't exceed the $30m lower estimate. On the other hand, the newly 'discovered' Rothko sold very well at $33.7m, against an estimate of $18-22m. I'd have a Rothko over a Warhol any day.

The Wall Street Journal has a good summary here, but as ever, some reading between the lines is necessary.

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