Art Bubble Also Cracking As 21 Of 71 Works Fail To Sell At Latest Sotheby's Auction

Tyler Durden's picture

With the Biotech bubble busted and social media stocks slaughtered, it seems disappointment is spreading for the world's wealthy living off the fat of the Fed. As NY Times reports, on Wednesday, many in the art world converged upon Sotheby’s for the sales of Impressionist and modern art... but nearly a third of the art went unsold. The mediocre results followed an unexciting night at Christie’s on Tuesday and suggest that yet another central-bank-fueled excess-money-has-to-spill-out-of-our-silk-lined-pockets-somewhere trickle-down bubble is bursting. With Chinese property prices tumbling and PBOC cracking down on Macau money-laundering, it is perhaps no surprise that what demand Sotheby's saw was Asia buyers.


As The NY Times reports,

Asian buyers were by far the most active shoppers, bidding consistently by telephone through the auction house’s representatives throughout the evening. According to officials there, Asian bidders managed to snap up $63.9 million worth of art, or roughly one-third of the evening’s $219 million total. Sotheby’s had estimated the sale would bring in $218.1 million to $317.9 million. The auction house offered 71 works, and of those, 21 failed to sell.


The mediocre results followed an unexciting night at Christie’s on Tuesday. That auction house managed to sell $285.9 million, above its low estimate of $244.5 million but not close to its high of $360.4 million.




Picasso’s “Femme dans un rocking chair,” from 1956 — was back on the block, but this time at Sotheby’s. In November, Christie’s had hoped it would sell for $8 million to $12 million... It sold for $6.3 million. Lulu Creel, who runs Sotheby’s in Mexico, took the winning bid on behalf of a client bidding by telephone.

We assume that all the excess cash is being used up for margin calls on TSLA, NFLX, TWTR, and FB "wealth" creations...

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Yes_Questions's picture



W. had 21 of his pieces at the auction?

CH1's picture

Modern art is UGLY.

Tom Wolfe wrote a nice little book on the great art scam, called The Painted Word.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

As a general rule I would have to agree with you, CH1.  + 1

Thomas's picture

Impressionist paintings are over rated and in abundant supply. They are selling paintings noboy recognizes painted by artists nobody has heard of for sums of money nobody can imagine. This bubble will burst. BTW-In "The Death of Money" Rickards supports investment grade art. I am a fan of Jim and maybe he's right, but this one doesn't smell right to me. I put that and the SDRs in my doubtful folder.

XitSam's picture

There are fads in art, styles come and go.  As the NYT said, these unsold paintings could just be overpriced. Without further evidence, it doesn't have to be related to the Fed's inflation.

Bindar Dundat's picture

Next to go are high end condos in Miami and West Palm......

Winston Churchill's picture

Ritz Carlton just sold their last ultra high end units on Singer Island.$5m PoS's.

teslaberry's picture

you had to read tom wolfe to learn that art is only worth what people pay for it? and that if you're filthy rich, money is confetti ?


hm. seems like you got scammed out of a few hours of time reading a dumb fuck book with an expert convincing you you need to read his 'opinion' to observe the fucking obvious. 

fuck tom wolfe.

Ignatius's picture

"Private Pyle, you're so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece."  --  Gny Sgt. Hartman

DirkDiggler11's picture

How many more warning signs do you need that this shit is starting to unravel. Almost every bubble on the globe is starting to pop, from housing / real estate to Chinese coal plants, it starting to get real, and fast !

Long: Lead, food, silver and gold, In that order !

knukles's picture

The high end art market has historically been a pretty good precursor of things to come.
As have been bling like collectable autos, etc.... particularly witin the aytos, stuff like 60s muscle cars
Rich guys "toys"

DoChenRollingBearing's picture


I might add having some CA$H in the house as well, good in a deflation.

FreedomGuy's picture

I think we should do an Art Bailout. The Fed should issue some new bonds, buy the artwork and put it on it's balance sheets. Once the art market recovers it can sell these artworks...and $4 trillion in real estate back into the market. Problem solved. Economic world saved.

yogibear's picture

Calling Yellen and the Federal Reserve Banksters to get to work (senator Chuick Shumer) and print! Keep printing until you make like Zimbabwe.

A Lunatic's picture

This is quite common actually.......

new game's picture

my mona lisa is not for sale at any price!

Grande Tetons's picture

How many retarded customs agents know the value of art? Nill. 

Long is not a bad way to move around a bit of wealth. 

Could be other stuff authenticated Lincoln letter...Kennedy signed docs.....Marilyn Monroe's pubes. 

RafterManFMJ's picture

I think I'll start a KickStarter with the goal of buying Ms. Monroe's pubes and getting her cloned. Then I'll ask her if she really did kill herself or maybe have Geraldo ask her a series of questions on Fox, live.

BlindMonkey's picture

Why wait that long? Just go to Vegas and ask them to make into a holograph like they did with Mr Jackson.

Ariadne's picture

Go to Vegas and get a pro who impersonates Marilyn Monroe

km4's picture

There Are Now Officially More Bears Than Bulls via @themoneygame

km4's picture

Anyone Who Says 'This Time Is Different' Is Usually Wrong (David Leonhardt)

Stocks have only seen these kinds of valuations two other times: in the run-up to the 1929 crash, and before the 2007 crash. Some say this time is different. And it's unlikely we'll see a comparable reckoning to those two moments. But the odds that we'll emerge totally unscathed seem unlikely. “You can always think of reasons of why now is different,” Yale Nobel laureate Robert Shiller tells the New York Times' David Leonhardt, who also quotes this from Harvard's John Campbell: "One should be skeptical of ‘This time is different’ arguments.” 

Read more:

teslaberry's picture

but if no one is saying this time is different. then it is. because every time , there is always someone saying this time is different. 

so if this time cannot be different, why waste your breath trying make it different by convincing everyone that it's not?


have i confused you yet? because everything i said is logically consistent in order to ask you a question . which is this; who cares?


if you know this time isn't different. who are you saving by shouting this out on the internet? 

Babaloo's picture

That has to be the stupidest fucking piece of "journalism" I've ever seen. The headline is exactly diametrically opposite of what the article says.

And km4 didn't even realize it. Fucking genius.

RafterManFMJ's picture

Not good. The "Smart Money" is now buying guns, ammo, tinned food and reinforced concrete.

Must be close.

Spungo's picture

"particularly witin the aytos, stuff like 60s muscle cars Rich guys "toys"


Rich guy toys? More like pathetic old man toys. They buy some car they had when they were 20 and say "This is the car I had when I was 20. I had my whole life ahead of me. So much hope. Back when I was still happy."

Every car comes with a free revolver in the glove box so you can off yourself after crying about your failed marriage.

Bunga Bunga's picture

They all went on hunt for Canadian real estate. They wanna get some before they are priced out forever.

kedi's picture

Jokes on them. Canada is fully owned by US till it runs out of gas.

ZeroPoint's picture

Peak Artsy-fartsy. Is Steve going get his loan?

buzzsaw99's picture

moar proof that an excess of clownbux does not mitigate poor taste

Hongcha's picture

If a sale of Chinese high-end contempo/20th Century only sells 21 of 71 lots,then I would be more inclined to think burst bubble.  Auctions of western artists took a backseat to the Chinese a long time ago.

The Chinese buyers are notoriously ethnocentric and have been very very slow too warm up to owning Western stuff.  Much slower than the Japanese 25 years ago.

Crassus's picture

Chinese contemporary art has been hot for half a decade and continues to be.

Sotheby's and Christie's apparently think they can fool Indian and Chinese buyers with overly optimistic estimates on mediocre work by Picasso, Matisse, Monet etc.

Stuck on Zero's picture

I obtained a partial list of the art works that didn't sell.  They include:

"Turd in a Punch Bowl"

"Cat Litter on Hardwood"

"Tampon and the Holy Temple"

"An Artist's Self Portrait in Urine"

"Guacamole Noir"


Crassus's picture

Sotheby's and Christie's evening Impressionist and Modern sales had few stellar pieces. These few sold at the high end or above estimates. Those that did not meet their reserve prices should not have. Ten years ago many of these pieces would have been in the day sale. The sale is only as good as the offerings.

Bemused Observer's picture

Ah, screw that! The Van Gogh is going right back over the mini-bar...

dojufitz's picture

Art is now only about has nothing to do with art.......


so when it doesn't sell for what some expert thought it should go for....


we all feel terrible for the is so unfair.....

kurt's picture

Shit on a Shingle

Now that's Art!

junction's picture

I am surprised that they were not any Corots on sale at these auctions.


Back in 1953, ARTnews reported on the French saying that “Corot painted 2,000 canvases, 5,000 of which are in America.” While this is an obvious exaggeration, it is well known that—as the world’s leading Corot scholar, Martin Dieterle, puts it—Corot “has the distinction of being the most frequently forged painter in history.”

Stuck on Zero's picture

Well known in the art world is that forgeries are often more valuable than the originals.


fishwharf's picture

Finally, some good economic news.