On Monday, Picasso’s Women of Algiers (Version O), set an auction house record when it sold for $179,365,000, including the house's premium, prompting us to remark that if you were looking for signs of runaway inflation, Christie’s may be a good place to start.
The nearly $200 million price tag for the “riot of colors focused on scantily dressed women” is, according to WSJ, reflective of the work’s “trophy” status which it earned as a result of its “ownership pedigree”. Translated from high-end art world parlance to plain English: for billionaires who have seen their obscene fortunes balloon under monetary policies designed to inflate financial assets at the expense of everything else (including market stability), purchasing art affords the buyer an even greater opportunity to “boast” than hoarding $100 million homes because after all, there a lot of mega mansions, but there’s only one vibrant, multi-hued Picasso riff on a Delacroix, so really, $180 million is a bargain, especially when most of the purchase price will be recouped by S&P 2,500, or SHCOMP 6,000 (depending on the nationality of the unnamed buyer).
This trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon, and as Bloomberg reports, more than $2 billion in art has been sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the last week alone with the top 10 pieces accounting for an astounding $800 million.
The art market is on such a tear even the insiders are scratching their heads. Since New York’s spring sales started last week, at least $2.1 billion of art has been sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, with the top 10 lots accounting for almost $800 million.
Christie’s said collectors from 35 countries were bidding at its May 11 sale while Sotheby’s said clients from more than 40 countries were out in force the next evening. They jockeyed for Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art.
“There’s a lot of money out there and people are chasing great works,” said Mera Rubell, who, along with her husband, Don, runs a private museum in Miami showcasing their collection. “Now the young artists are selling for millions.”
Without further ado, here is what $800 million in 10 pieces of art looks like:
#1: Pablo Picasso, “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” $179.4 million
#2: Alberto Giacometti, “L’Homme au Doigt,” $141.3 million
#3: Mark Rothko “No. 10,” $81.9 million
#4: Pablo Picasso, “Buste de Femme (Femme a la Resille),” $67.4 million
#5: Vincent Van Gogh, “L’Allée des Alyscamps,” $66.3 million
#6: Lucian Freud, “Benefits Supervisor Resting,” $56.2 million
#7: Andy Warhol “Colored Mona Lisa,” $56.2 million
#8: Claude Monet, “Nympheas,” $54 million
#9: Francis Bacon “Portrait of Henrietta Moraes,” $47.8 million
#10: Mark Rothko, “Untitled (Yellow and Blue),” $46.5 million
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Bloomberg sums it up nicely: "You know the market is frothy when a Monet that sells for $40.5 million doesn’t make the final cut for a top 10 list."