Friday, October 17, 2008

Auction Results Fall 2008: Sotheby's and Phillips

Sotheby's and Phillips held their various owner sales yesterday and the day before, as the markets continued to plummet. Given these extraordinary conditions, both sales came in under their total low estimates, but to our eyes, still performed pretty well, all things considered.

Sotheby's Photographs

Total Lots: 249
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $6637000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $10115000

Total Lots Sold: 170
Total Lots Bought In: 79
Buy In %: 31.73%
Total Sale Proceeds: $5666313

Sotheby's had the overall best quality material of the sales this week, and the buy-in rate differential with Christie's (31.73% versus 46.90%) reflects this difference. The increasing weakness from Low to High seen at Christie's was less pronounced here.

Here's a more detailed breakdown (Low, Mid and High as defined in the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 57
Low Sold: 43
Low Bought In: 14
Buy In %: 24.56%
Total Low Estimate: $490000
Total Low Sold: $330938

Mid Total Lots: 153
Mid Sold: 104
Mid Bought In: 49
Buy In %: 32.03%
Total Mid Estimate: $3545000
Total Mid Sold: $2171250

High Total Lots: 39
High Sold: 23
High Bought In: 16
Buy In %: 41.03%
Total High Estimate: $6080000
Total High Sold: $3164125

The quality effect is seen again in these numbers, especially in the High group, where the buy-in rate was lower than Christie's (but still high due to the environment) and the total proceeds were approximately double. Generally, a solid showing in these tough economic times.

Phillips Photographs

Total Lots: 227
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $2796500
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $4059500

Total Lots Sold: 156
Total Lots Bought In: 71
Buy In %: 31.28%
Total Sale Proceeds: $2345625

With the lowest buy-in rate so far and the proceeds closest to their pre sale low estimate, Phillips has to be grudgingly satisfied with yesterday's results. The material in this sale was much more tilted toward the low end, and surprisingly, this seems to have served it well, perhaps as buyers passed on the trophy lots and focused on lesser priced images.

Here's the breakdown (again with definitions in the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 108
Low Sold: 78
Low Bought in: 29
Buy In %: 26.85%
Total Low Estimate: $788500
Total Low Sold: $624500

Mid Total Lots: 111
Mid Sold: 74
Mid Bought In: 37
Buy In %: 33.33%
Total Mid Estimate: $2521000
Total Mid Sold: $1472125

High Total Lots: 8
High Sold: 4
High Bought In: 4
Buy In %: 50.00%
Total High Estimate: $750000
Total High Sold: $249000

So the Low held its own just fine, and as the prices moved into the Mid and High ranges, Phillips saw the same kinds of drop offs that Christie's and Sotheby's experienced. Perhaps this bodes well for Bloomsbury and Swann (today and early next week), who have a larger percentage of Low material up for sale.

So maybe this season isn't about a flight to quality (as it appeared at first), but a search for value using a sober and measured approach. It's the revenge of the low end!

1 comment:

Payne said...

On Monday buy two photographies in the auction of Million et assiciés to good price. Also I was lucky with Brassaï. But I am looking for some Berenice Abbott's photography and do not be what price is the correct one. Can it help me?

Thank you