Going Down? High End Art Market Sales Decline

The numbers are in. Sotheby's sold 144.5 million of Impressionist and modern art. This may seem like a hefty sum of money, but in the art world it is nowhere near record breaking. According to Sotheby's past results, this sale has resulted in the lowest sale number since a sale in 2009 after the recession.

According to an analyst at Goldman Sachs, the high end art market "appears to be going through a correction".

There has also been a shift in collectors going underground instead going through auctions. This means a lot of high end art are being settled privately between buyers and their brokers.

An almost empty showroom; a reflection of the decline or just a bad sale day?

The decline in Sotheby's sales can be attributed to the general risk aversion sentiments felt by globally. The oil decline, which caused turmoil in the financial markets, has also began to slip into the art markets. Sellers are not listing top tier items for sale because they do not believe the there are buyers who can afford to purchase at a premium.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, online art sales have been booming, posting great sales results year over year. Could Sotheby's decline also indicate a shift in collectors finding bargain items through online auctions?