Market For Art In Post-Obama Letdown?

The stock market fell the day after Obama’s victory. Is the art market diving for the same reason? Probably not, although I don’t think Sotheby’s in New York was thrilled with the proceeds of last night’s auction. An erotically charged Picasso oil painting of his mistress alongside tulips and fruit may have sold Thursday for $41.5 million, but it was an otherwise anemic night for high-end art. “Nature morte aux tulipes” (pictured), painted in 1932, was the star of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art sale in Manhattan. The pre-sale estimate for the work had been between $35 million and $50 million. The painting depicts the head of Marie-Therese Walter, who was Picasso’s lover and famous muse, poised over a suggestive flower arrangement. Its sale was one of the few bright spots for Sotheby’s, with 30 percent of lots failing to sell and the total haul of the evening amounting to $163 million — below the low end of the overall $169-245 million estimate. This followed a similar performance at the Christie’s auction on Wednesday.

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