Auction Update Review
This past week fourteen auctions were archived. Together they raised $17,096,369. One event, Sotheby's sale of prints on April 29th brought $7,750,012. This sale came ahead of the unfolding economic crisis in Europe which appears to have weighed on the market this past week.
Of the 14 sales 7 were in dollars, 3 in Pounds and four in Euros.
The overall percentage of lots selling was 72%; in Euros 67%, in Pounds 72%, in dollars 75%.
This past week in AE Monthly we introduced a new measure of auction performance, a comparison of each sale's total proceeds divided by the aggregate high estimate of all items. In isolation the number doesn't mean much. Seen in comparison to concurrent sales and others by the same house it provides useful insight. For auctions archived this past week this number was 78.03%, up from 71.13% this past week. Piasa had the two best results: 115.57% and 109.16%. Sales that achieve less than 100% suggest that estimates exceeded bidder interest.
Frank Benevento of Palm Beach Florida consigned to Sothebys London, in September 2009, his collection of highly valuable and rare maps. They were sold this past week. In the 7 months since consigning, the Pound lost 11% of its value relative to the dollar and financial crisis has ensued. The books, manuscript and ephemera markets have also been soft for some time. The double effect, for his sale, was a smaller than expected turnout and lower than expected winning bids. The auction's hammer plus premium totaled roughly what Mr. Benevento invested in the sold items over the past five years. Net of auction commissions he lost 24% or 341,150 gbp. Sotheby's commissions totaled 291,147 gbp. Mr. Benevento is a gentlemen and calls it "tuition".
For buyers with courage it was a good week to be in the rooms, for sellers difficult.
May 9, 2010