Inflation Chronicles (Part 1): Art Prices So High, “The Crowd Forgot To Clap”

November 16, 2014

Depending on which expert is talking, the world is either falling into a deflationary abyss or launching an inflationary moonshot. What’s truly weird and fascinating is that they’re both right. The mountain of debt taken on in the past few decades exerts a profoundly deflationary pull on the economies of Europe and Japan, and to a lesser extent the US. At the same time the torrent of currency flowing out of the world’s central banks is swelling the accounts of the super-rich who are converting it into real assets as fast as they can, causing near-hyperinflation in some favored markets. Hence the spectacle of Paul Krugman (and most Fed governors) complaining about low inflation and warning of a deflationary death spiral, while things like this are happening:


This evening Christie’s brought in the highest-ever total for an auction, at their contemporary sale in New York, grossing $852.9 million across 75 lots. That figure beat the sale’s formidable estimate of $630 million to $836 million, and more than doubled the $343.7 million that its rival, Sotheby’s, brought in at its contemporary art auction last night. The previous record for an auction was $745 million, which was set back in May at Christie’s contemporary art auction in the same room.

The sale saw new artist records for 11 artists, among them Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Peter Doig, Martin Kippenberger, Sturtevant, and Seth Price. Seventy-five of the eighty lots on offer found buyers, for an impressive sell-through rate by lot of 94 percent.

Andy Warhol’s Triple Elvis [Ferus Type] (1960) and Four Marlons (1966) sold early as lots 9 and 10, going for $81.9 million and $69.6 million, respectively. By the time the second figure was reached, the crowd—whether reeling from the action or no longer capable of being surprised or just no longer impressed by anything under $80 million—forgot to clap. 

To say it was a hot room would be to put things mildly.


This article is brought to you courtesy of John Rubino from Dollar Collapse.

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