Art Prices Tumble 35%

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2009 10:22 AM CDT
Members of the media view a 1892 painting by James Ensor, right, and a Paul Klee painting, left, which are part of the recently-auctioned Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge art collection.   (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
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(Newser) – Art prices went into freefall in the first quarter, as cash-strapped collectors unloaded their masterpieces, the Financial Times reports. Prices dropped 35%, after falling just 4.8% for all of 2008. Postwar and contemporary artists, favorites of the Wall Street elite, have been hit especially hard, with even the best performing postwar artist, Andy Warhol, seeing a decline.

At its current pace, 2009 could pass 1991 as the worst on record for art; prices fell 41% that year. Postwar and contemporary prices fell more than 30% since January, after rising an average of 20% a year for the past decade. The Old Masters fared better, with one investor making a tidy $12.9 million on a JMW Turner purchased for $1.1 million in 1982.