April 16, 2021

Kristian Carey

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Femme Nue Couchée Au Collier, 1932, oil on canvas 16 x 16 in.

With the spring auction season accelerating and high profile May sales fast approaching, ARTBnk examined Pablo Picasso’s Q1 2021 sale results from Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips to offer a clearer picture of the current status of the artist’s market. With newsworthy sales on the horizon, we’ll examine exactly how the artist’s recent results measure against past performance.


Totals

The 36 total sold lots from Pablo Picasso over the first quarter of 2021 totaled $49,299,410 in sales, 9.5% above their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $45,038,308, and 11.6% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate totals of $44,178,240. While aggregated sold prices exceed both ARTBnk Value and buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate totals, it’s only as we break down performance across price sectors and examine the lots that overachieved will Picasso’s market come into focus.


Outliers

It’s not uncommon that a handful of lots achieve results well above market expectations, but these outliers are typically not representative of an overall market shift. Generally identified as selling at 100% or more of the buyer’s-premium adjusted high estimate, excluding these works from aggregated sale totals can offer a clearer understanding of the overall health of the market. 10 of the 36 lots sold from Pablo Picasso qualified as outliers, which represents 27.8% of lots sold, but only 3.6% of the total dollar amount sold.

When we exclude outliers from overall sale totals, the 26 lots sold over the timeframe analyzed totaled $47,505,294 in sales, 8.8% above their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value totals of $43,670,890, and 8.8% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate total of $43,671,421.

The 10 outliers totaled $1,794,116 in sales, 31.2% above their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $1,367,418, and 254.0% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate total of $506,819.


High End Market

The 3 works achieving sold prices of $1m and above totaled $45,990,096 in sales, 10.2% above their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $41,716,499, and 8.9% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate total of $42,213,827. No works sold in the high end market qualified as outliers.


Middle Market

The 8 lots sold between $100k and $1m (the middle market) totaled $2,092,876 in sales, 9.4% above their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $1,912,892, and 60.7% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate total of $1,302,044.

4 of 8 lots sold in the middle market achieved prices greater than 100% above their high estimate, representing 50.0% of total lots sold and 66.8% of the total dollar amount sold in this sector. When we exclude these overachieving works, the 4 remaining lots sold totaled $695,050 in sales, -22.9% below their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $901,825, and -22.2% below aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate total of $893,512.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Portrait de Françoise, 1948, pen and ink on paper

Sotheby’s Modern Renaissance: A Cross Category Sale, March 25th, London
Estimate: £120,000-£180,000 ($164,000-246,000)
Sold: £644,200 ($880,925)


Low End Market

The 25 total lots sold for less than $100k in the low end market totaled $1,216,438 in sales, -13.7% below their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $1,408,917, and 83.6% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate totals of $662,369.

6 of 25 lots sold in Picasso’s low end market qualified as outliers, representing 24.0% of total lots sold and 32.6% of the total dollar amount sold in this sector. When we exclude these outliers, the 19 lots sold totaled $820,148 in sales, -22.1% below their aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Value total of $1,052,566, and 45.4% above aggregated auction house buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimate totals of $564,082.


Buy-Ins

2 of 36 Picasso lots offered in the first quarter of 2021 failed to sell, for a buy-in rate of 5.3%. Buy-ins were exclusive to the middle market, with 20% of lots offered in that sector failing to sell. This result reinforces the polarity of overachieving and underachieving offerings in that sector, but the overall low rate of buy-ins is a positive for the Picasso market.


Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise Dans Un Fauteuil Noir, 1962, oil on canvas

Picasso had 3 successful repeat sales in Q1 of 2021. All three works sold for more than their previous purchase price, generating a positive Compound Annual Return (CAR). Two works, Femme Nue Couchée Au Collier and La Fille Et Le Moine, were sold once previously at auction. La Fille Et Le Moine generated a positive 3.2% CAR over it’s short holding period, having previously sold in February of 2018 for $172,675 and again in March 2021 for $189,531. Femme Nue Couchée Au Collier, a 1932 oil on canvas, was the top selling Picasso work in Q1 2021, with it’s March 23rd sale at Christie’s for $19,941,144 generating a 8.7% CAR after it previously sold for $11,141,000 in May of 2014. The lone work to sell three times at auction was Femme Assise Dans Un Fauteuil Noir, selling first in May of 2004 for $2,695,500 and again in May of 2015 for $8,090,000, generating a 10.5% CAR. Femme Assise Dans Un Fauteuil Noir then sold for a third time on March 23rd at Christie’s for $13,208,401, this time generating a 8.5% CAR. 


Conclusion

Over the first quarter of 2021, Pablo Picasso’s sale totals exceeded aggregated buyer’s premium adjusted mean estimates across all market sectors. However, performance measured against data-driven ARTBnk Value saw mixed results. Picasso’s high end market surpassed 10% above aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Values despite no works performing so well as to achieve outlier status. The middle market was polarized enough to swing sale results from 9.4% above aggregated ARTBnk Values when outlier sales (half of the sold lots in the sector) are included in the totals, down to -22.9% below with those lots excluded. The low end market was the only sector where total sales fell short of aggregated pre-sale ARTBnk Values with outliers included. While results in the middle and low end markets both saw underperformance relative to ARTBnk Value with outliers removed, the results show that there was a large percentage of high-performing lots and a low buy in rate. 

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