Masters Shore Up Shaky Art Market

Auctions break records, but living artists' work suffers
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2008 9:48 AM CDT
One of three panels of "Three Studies for Self-Portrait" by Francis Bacon, which sold for $34.5 million in London.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The art market has again defied the economic downturn, with Christie's and Sotheby's bringing in more than $1 billion combined during the past two weeks' London sales—a 19% rise from last year. But those numbers disguise the erratic nature of the market, writes the Wall Street Journal. While new collectors from Russia and the Middle East are paying top dollar for works by established modern masters, younger artists went bust.

This June a first-class Monet brought in $80.5 million and a Francis Bacon triptych fetched $34 million. But works by less established artists failed to sell, and many fear a top-heavy market where established figures soar and newer artists flounder. "The market is still healthy for great, dead artists, but there are problems bubbling up for living artists," said a Monte Carlo dealer. "Collectors are just being careful."