Guaranteeing Giacometti

January 27 2015

Image of Guaranteeing Giacometti

Picture: CNBC

In her valedictory piece on leaving the New York Times, the eminent Carol Vogel tells us that - amazingly - Sotheby's are believed to have lost 'several million dollars' when they sold Giacometti's Chariot, above, for $101 million last year. Apparently, they'd guaranteed the vendor more. Crazy. But their financial interest probably explains the hyperbolic catalogue entry.

Vogel also looks at that ever-present question, will the contemporary and modern bubble burst?

The auction houses are currently in a state of upheaval, having lost their chief executives. Faced with sagging profits and rising costs, both houses are struggling to figure out how to be competitive without giving away revenue streams like the fees they charge buyers. The big sales in London next month will signal whether buyers are feeling flush. Those sales precede May sales in New York, where experts are said to be scaling back on the amount of money each company will invest in guarantees — the undisclosed sums promised to sellers regardless of the outcome of a sale — without the safety net of an outside party putting up the cash and assuming the risk.

Guarantees have helped make the market what it is. I'm not sure it can survive without them.

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.