London Art Fog

Jean-Michel Basquiat "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict"
In a much more subdued market, the £15 million estimate for the Basquiat work doesn’t seem cheap, but it’s also not unattainable. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Marion Maneker
June 23, 2024

The auction houses have already downgraded London’s June sales to a midseason exercise. Sotheby’s, with its £96 million in estimated sales, is the only auction house that really came to play. Christie’s has an aggregate presale estimate of £9.13 million; Phillips has work estimated at £12 million. Alas, while this year’s London sales have almost the same number of lots as they did last year, the overall value has dropped from £253 million in aggregate estimate a year ago to £117 million this week. 

A big chunk of last year’s total was the £65 million for Gustav Klimt’s stunning Lady With a Fan, which ultimately sold for $108 million. The absence of that huge lot is one main reason that the average presale value of a lot plummeted from £454,000 last year to £209,000 this year. The median lot value was £60,000 in 2023 but fell to £50,000 this year.