The worlds of art and antiques experienced an exceptional period of 12 months

Will 2022 be as good? This is the burning question at the dawn of an uncertain new year when at least the economic forecasts are favorable. Despite Covid, the world of art, antiques and collectibles had an exceptional 2021 at home and abroad.

With 7.3 billion dollars (6.44 billion euros) and more, Sotheby’s had the best year in its 277-year history last year. This was motivated by the strength and depth of demand and an influx of new collectors. The increase in the number of quality works released to the market has been met by strong demand from new and existing collectors.

Alberto Giacometti’s “Le Nez” sold for 69.24 million euros in New York

In 2021, a record number of bidders joined sales at Sotheby’s, 44% of whom were new to the auction house. New technologies have opened up auctions to everyone everywhere and bidders have responded to a digital experience that has been seamless.

Sotheby’s recorded a record year in Asia, a record year for global sales of modern and contemporary art and a record year for luxury, with watches, wines and spirits, design, and books and manuscripts each peaking. historical records for total annual auctions. Global totals for luxury goods for the first time reached over $ 1 billion.

These sums have been further increased with new categories like streetwear and NFTs, each delivering a new demographic of collectors. A year ago, few of us had heard of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Now these are big companies.

Willem de Kooning’s “Untitled IV” grossed 16.69 million euros at Sotheby’s in New York in November.

Last March, American artist Beeple (aka Mike Winklemann b.1981) made headlines around the world when an NFT of his work Daily: the first 5,000 days sold for 63.9 million euros. As many as 78% of NFT bidders were new to Sotheby’s and half of them were under 40.

A historical crossover in purchases of physical works was also noted. that of Alberto Giacometti The nose was acquired by Justin Sun, founder of cryptocurrency platform Tron, for € 69.24 million in New York City in November. It came from the Macklowe collection which brought in 597 million euros. It was an amazing collection of contemporary art which also included Untitled IV by Willem de Kooning, who made 16.69 million euros.

At home we have had a historic winter selling Irish art. Winter sales totals at Sotheby’s, Veres, Bonhams, Whyte’s, Morgan O’Driscoll and James Adam have passed the € 12 million mark.

One of a pair of Irish carved gilded wood and gesso side tables dating from 1738, sold for € 168,000 out of a higher estimate of € 50,000
One of a pair of Irish carved gilded wood and gesso side tables dating from 1738, sold for € 168,000 out of a higher estimate of € 50,000

At Whyte’s, Yeats’ estimated most expensive painting ever to be auctioned – the Scream at 1.5 M € -2 M € – sold for 1.74 M € with fees and VAT.

There is no sign yet of the frenzy that set in in 2007 before the economic crash, rather it is described as a market maintaining measured and steady growth.

Among the many memorable home front sales were Fonsie Mealy’s content offering as well as the Howth Castle Library. There was huge international interest in auctioning off the contents of a house that had been in the same family for 800 years.

A pair of Irish carved gilded wood and gesso side tables dating from 1738, which fetched € 168,000 at Howth out of a maximum estimate of € 50,000, was just one of many memorable lots here.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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