Sara Friedlander, head of the post-war and contemporary department at Christie’s, said the lack of fireworks on big lots is actually just an indication the market is stable.
“We priced things based on where we see the market, and where we see the interest,” she said. “We’re always happy to be surprised, but we’re also, as specialists, very happy when things go within estimate, because it means we’ve read the market correctly.”
Dealers hoped that Thursday night’s solid results will prime buyers for the next stop on the global art market circuit in June: the Art Basel fair in Basel, Switzerland. It has always been considered the place to present the best work possible, but if the market is truly in a stable place, some dealers anticipate having eight-figure works to sell on the secondary market.
But Art Basel doesn’t open for a few weeks, and that means, for Christie’s specialists, a well-deserved break. Thursday night signaled the end of a two-week spree of sales at Christie’s, with the key evening sales coming right after a week of offloading 1,600 items from the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller. Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of Christie’s post-war and contemporary department, said after the sale Thursday that the normal May sales week in addition to the full slate of Rockefeller sales “feels like a 12-round boxing week.”
The long fight paid off. In a press conference after the sale, Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s CEO, came to a podium and announced that, between the Rockefeller sales and the sales this week, Christie’s had sold art and collectibles worth $1.7 billion in a fortnight, and will hopefully push it closer to $2 billion with the hundreds of lots in the day sales Friday, and sales of American and Latin American art early next week.