Skate’s Top 1000, our ranking of the world’s most valuable art, consists of works by 183 artists. About a dozen of these artists are represented by just a single work priced above the threshold price of Skate’s Top 1000, which currently stands at USD 5,730,951. Given that these artists periodically enter and drop out of the ranking as a result of changing market dynamics, we refer to them as “Littoral Artists.” Generally speaking, only one additional price record is enough to more firmly plant an artist in Skate’s Top 1000 and thus avoid the designation of “Littoral Artist.”
Ferdinand Hodler – Littoral Artist (Swiss) – was in Skate’s Top 1000 as late as April 30, 2008, with Eiger, Monch und Jungfrau uber dem Nebelmeer (1908) occupying the 996th position in the ranking. As is often the case with the Littoral Artists, Hodler was washed away by the Q2 2009 auctions that brought the threshold price for Skate’s Top 1000 to USD 5,730,951, which is where it remains to this date. Eiger, Monch und Jungfrau uber dem Nebelmeer sold for USD 5,702,830 in November 2005, including buyer’s premium.
Next week, almost four years after the sale of Eiger, Monch und Jungfrau uber dem Nebelmeer, which remains Hodler’s price record to date, Christie’s will bring a highly comparable painting to the market – Eiger, Monch und Jungfrau von Beatenberg – when it holds its auction in Zurich on September 21, 2009. This work has been assigned a range of USD 3,855,730 – 5,783,595. If the work sells at the higher end of this range, it could potentially enter Skate’s Top 1000 and bring Hodler back into the ranking of the world’s most valuable artists and give the artist a new price record.
At Skate’s we believe that Christie’s setting the price range with a width equal to exactly 50% of the end range of the estimate is very indicative of the auction house’s expectations: (i) Christie’s has little confidence as to where the market will price the work (if it indeed selss); (ii) the high estimate is very close to the benchmark of Hodler’s 2005 price record and appears to be a nostalgic look back to the times of old, which Christie’s hopes to build upon (although more realistically down from). We believe Christie’s will feel a great sense of victory if the sale clears the assigned range. If Eiger, Monch und Jungfrau von Beatenberg does sell, which is by no means certain, our bet is that the work will fetch no more than USD 4 million.
In the October issue of Skate’s Art Industry Investment Report, we will discuss in detail the results of this auction, as well as preview the coming fall auction season.