The art world bust continued last night at the Christie's contemporary auction in New York, where almost a third of the 75 works on the block went unsold. Not a single collector bid for the highlight of the sale, a self-portrait by Francis Bacon estimated to sell for around $40 million, Bloomberg reports. And in a sign of the times, a collection of 16 drawings put up by the CEO of bankrupt Lehman Brothers sold for just $13.5 million, below the low estimate.
Christie's attempted to boost sales by convincing collectors to accept lower minimum prices; as a result, a once-unthinkable 52% of the lots sold went for below the low estimates. The auction house also failed to sell 12 works for which it provided a guarantee to the consignors, meaning Christie's will shell out millions. As one auctioneer said after the sale, "The market is adjusting down."