Major Works Fail to Sell at Christie's

Dismal auction season continues as Bacon fails to find buyer
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2008 9:16 AM CST
A Francis Bacon self-portrait from 1964, which failed to sell at Christie's last night.   (AP Photo/Christie's)
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(Newser) – 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."
(Read more art market stories.)