Demand for Young Artists in New York Auctions

Demand for abstract paintings by artist Lucien Smith was so strong two years ago that art adviser Mia Romanik sold a dozen of his works in one month.
Contemporary art auctions at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips in New York fell 26 percent to $33 million in September from $44.8 million during the same sales last year as a third of lots failed to sell. Just 63 percent of artworks created in the past four years found buyers, 22 percent less than last year, according to research by Artnet Analytics.
Winnie the Pooh
Smith debuted at auction in November 2013 with a 10-foot-tall painting depicting a landscape from “Winnie the Pooh.” It fetched $389,000 at Phillips in New York, a 3,890-percent increase from the $10,000 paid by the sellers. The price remains the artist’s auction record.
“First Open” auction
At Christie’s “First Open” auction on Sept. 30, the reserves -- minimum prices at which sellers agree to sell -- on many works went out of the window.
Rosa’s painting at Christie’s sold for $12,500 against the high estimate of $30,000. Pieces by popular artists Jon Pestoni, Michael Riedel and Walead Beshty didn’t find takers.

The amount of contemporary art at auction is also rising. In New York in September, 913 lots were offered at the three houses, up from 884 a year ago. More contemporary art will be sold at London auctions during the Frieze Art Fair starting Oct. 12 and at the bellwether art sales in New York in November.

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