Early May Auction Sales: High Investment Returns and New Records for Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso


Saturated with striking lots, early sales in May brought several curious changes to Skate’s Top 5000. Among the 40 new entries to the ranking, 12 were repeat sales that showed particularly strong investment returns. The best annualized effective rate of return (ERR) along with the highest premium price was realized by the British painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Not only did The meeting of Antony and Cleopatra: 41 BC yield a 18.05% ERR, but it also sold three times higher than its high estimate. Given the last year successful sale of The finding of Moses, which brought a 17% ERR to its seller, this work was bound to cause a certain level of interest. Yet, the combination of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s immature market (only five sales in Skate’s Top 5000) and the artist’s surging prices does not give us a reliable base for making further predictions.

Another artist to enjoy strong results early this month is Auguste Rodin, who has the advantage of a much more established market. Though perhaps not striking given the average weighted investment returns of 82% on repeat sales of Rodin’s works, the results this time were nevertheless impressive; his two statues – Le Penseur and Eternel Printemps, premier état, taille originale-variante type C – yielded returns of 24.05% and 14.33%, respectively.

Claude Monet also revealed strong investment potential. Two repeat Monet sales yielded a 10% ERR on average – an extremely high return for the Impressionists in general. The results are even more impressive given that Les Peupliers and La Seine à Argenteuil are not signature themes for Monet.

Pablo Picasso’s market was also supplemented with three positive ERR benchmarks that exceed his 4.5% average rate of return. Perhaps more impressive than the ERR numbers is the fact that Picasso’s 10 entries into Skate’s Top 5000 in May have increased the artist’s total market capitalization to $3 bln, which is roughly twice the level of his closest follower, Claude Monet.

Finally, two records were set by the French Fauvist painter Maurice de Vlaminck. First, his Paysage de banlieue turned out to be his most expensive work ever sold at auction (double the previous price record). Second, this sale has set a new benchmark for the artist, as the work’s 17% ERR counters de Vlaminck’s traditionally poor performance when it comes to investment returns.

The only negative ERR this month was set by Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Baigneuse, which achieved a return of -1% after a holding period of 13 years.

To view the full report with tables, please click here.

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2 Responses to Early May Auction Sales: High Investment Returns and New Records for Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso

  1. Andreas Meyer says:

    From an insider perspective and based on your observation of recent sales what is your view of the direction of the art world? Artmarket blog has posted several times that the Chinese Art Market Boom is going to create a bust here pretty soon for art investing. I have a hard time believing this to be the case with the rising economic status in China and the government’s plan to stabilise growth. Thoughts?

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