This year’s spring auction season in New York has been billed as a key test of the health of the art market, DealBook said in The New York Times – “an indication of whether trophies of the highest quality can continue to fetch high prices despite the instability of the world”. The main work that started the negotiations was Andy Warhol’s 1964 screenprint of Marilyn Monroe. Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, which sold for $195 million – setting both records as the “highest auction price ever for an American artist” and the most expensive work of the 20th century. That was taken as a good omen amid the current “abundance of blue chip art”. As noted by Philip Hoffman of consultancy The Fine Art Group, “a huge amount has been held back for two years and there is a tremendous pent-up demand from new clients”. He estimates that Manhattan’s two-week auction marathon could bring in $2 billion.
Four Minute Miracle
The iconic Marilyn painting, one of a series of portraits Warhol made of the Hollywood star after her death in 1962, sold “in just under four minutes,” Waiyee Yip said insider. Christie’s called it a homage to Warhol’s “penetrating power”. The painting was purchased by mega-dealer Larry Gagosian, who refused to say if he was dealing for himself or a client. But Asian bids have been particularly “thin” throughout the sale, Katya Kazakina said Artnet – “The Hong Kong showroom was quiet when the Marilyn showed up” and “Middle Eastern bidders didn’t seem to show up either”.
Hedge against inflation?
“Stocks, bonds and crypto are in turmoil. But there are more real assets coming,” Lex said in the FT. An old football shirt – “admittedly worn by Maradona when he scored the most memorable goal in the world” – recently fetched over £7million. Art, like gold, can claim a history as a “store of value.” In fact, Sotheby’s Mei Moses Index suggests it has beaten inflation in the “long run”. But there are major caveats. Paintings are illiquid assets that are “subject to more subjective impulses than gold or even houses”. The art market has also benefited from the low interest rates, since loans are increasingly used to finance purchases. Warhol’s Blue Marilyn what “the perfect cheesy inflation hedge” might look like. But appearances can be deceiving.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/business/markets/956714/blue-marilyn-breaks-records-art-investment-market Warhol’s Blue Marilyn breaks records: The art investment market is “on the move”