News-Antique.com - Oct 06,2008 - So, the papers are full of doom and gloom reports of artworks that havenít sold at auction or have sold for less than they were expected to sell for. It is kind of interesting that you donít tend to hear about the more minor works of art that donít sell when the market is running hot yet at the first sign of a bump in the road there are suddenly reports galore of minor market movements. I am particularly amused by an article from The Independant (see here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art-and-architecture/news/art-sale-mossacre-944771.html)
titled ďArt sale Moss-acreĒ which, as the title eludes to, reports on the sale of a Kate Moss self portrait scrawled in lipstick with the addition of a few philosophical words written with blood by world famous nutter Pete Doherty. What first concerned me about this article is the byline which reads ďDealers in shock as Kateís self-portrait and Banksy pieces fail to attract bidsĒ. When you read this byline did you come to the conclusion that the Moss work didnít attract any bids at all because I sure did yet. According to the article, however, the bidding just failed to reach the workís reserve and did in fact end up selling after the sale. In fact I know that the bidding reached 25,000 pounds which means that the title of the article is basically a lie.
Kate Moss is certainly well known for being the subject of other peopleís fine art exploits (eg. Banksy, Bacon etc.) but is hardly known for her own fine art exploits. Because it is the only painting Moss is known to have completed, the auction of this work is most likely the first time a work by Moss has ever been offered for sale. Because there is no previous sale of Mossís work on the primary or secondary market to compare with there is no way of knowing whether the eventual price achieved for this work was high or low which is just one of the reasons why this work should never have been used as an indicator of the health of the art market. How on earth can one know whether the estimate was right and if the work really did fail to sell because of the economic climate if none of Mossís works have ever been sold before?
Overall there wasnít anything wrong with the works being auctioned by Lyons and Turnbull except that they were the sort of works that would normally be most desirable to those people with a lower budget and less available funds. The same people who would be the most cautious with their money in the current economic climate and therefore would probably be the least likely to spend the money they do have available on art.
It is important to contextualise the results of any sale reported but it seems that most of the people who are doing the reporting on the art market either donít have the knowledge to provide that contextualisation or are only concerned