What a difference a few years make. After experiencing an over-inflated auction market, in which a “most expensive painting of all time” would be crowned each season, auction houses have returned to business as usual with smaller totals. Nonetheless, the season is not without its share of big-ticket works.
A last-minute entry as we went to press was the announcement that Sotheby’s is selling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982), which the house has guaranteed for more than $60m. Following a contraction in the market in 2016 and uncertainty over Donald Trump’s economic policies, the May sales are seen as a major test for the trade. For some, the Trump-driven “wealth effect” that was initially perceived as having a positive impact on the art market may be waning. “Lately there’s been more volatility and more down days than we’d been having for months after the election. This has created doubts that the run-up in stocks and business optimism might not be sustainable,” says the New York-based private dealer David Nisinson, adding: “But, absolutely, a lot of the best and most desirable material will do very well.”
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