Monday, July 20, 2015

Shrink rap

Looking at the latest Webb’s catalogue is a bit of a shock. This is the time of year the auction houses usually reach again for the big-ticket items after the March auctions in what Webb’s called its ‘Winter flagship event’ last year. For its 30 July sale this year though Webb’s is only offering 42 works with an average price of just $15,000. This time last year four paintings sold at Webb’s for more than it hopes to achieve for the whole July offering (and that’s based on high estimates). What’s the strategy then? With such a small number of lots it’s clearly not turnover Webb’s has in mind, and with a total of well under three-quarters of a million expected (on high estimate), it’s certainly not a high end game. And more surprisingly there’s no sign on Webb’s site that the top end of the market will feature in any future sales this year either. Perhaps this is the beginning of Webb’s walking away from the contemporary art market, although they have said repeatedly that this is not the case. Where it is that it might be walking to though is anyone’s guess.