On the eve of Christie’s three-day auction in Paris that started yesterday, collectors and critics said it could perhaps be the last great art auction and that sales will determine the future of future auctions. Chicken littles freaked out, saying “the event epitomizes the excesses of the art world” at a time galleries are closing and museums are struggling. Well, they were wrong. If sales from the first day are any true barometer, the art world is alive and well.
By tomorrow, nearly 700 pieces fetching up to $425 million worth of art will be auctioned. Sales have already surpassed estimates, with Monday ringing the bell at $264 million for Yves Saint Laurent’s collection, including works by Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, and Constantin Brancusi. We may have mad nuke scientists running free through Pakistan, full-blown financial meltdown, and two wars, but dammit we will have nice art. And thankfully, for once, it won’t be trendy Wall Street collectors doing the buying.