Online Bidders Come Out in Force for Lehman Brothers Sale Online bidders use Artfact Live! and Infinite Bidding™ to generate spectacular results for Freeman's November 1, 2009 sale of the Lehman Brothers Collection.
News-Antique.com - Nov 04,2009 - (Philadelphia, PA) On November 1, 2009 more than 400 art lovers, buyers and voyeurs jostled for space in Freeman's Philadelphia, PA auction gallery—some sitting on the floor while others spilled out into the foyer. Their purpose: to buy up the paintings, prints and photographs that once lined the halls of the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers offices in downtown Manhattan, Boston and Delaware.
Of the 411 Modern and Contemporary works offered, 283 were from the Lehman Brothers collection. Given their infamous past and the fact that most of the pieces were listed without reserves, it’s not surprising that 100% of the items in the Lehman Brothers collection sold. What was surprising is that many of them did not sell to those packed into Freeman’s auction gallery but to online bidders— over 800 of which signed up to bid directly via Artfact Live! and Infinite Bidding™, Freeman’s own live bidding solution powered by Artfact.
While the in-house crowd was mostly local— with buyers and investors from New York and Philadelphia— the online audience was distinctly international with 33 countries represented. Bidding methods were equally varied thanks to Artfact’s multi-platform approach. Launched in September 2009, Artfact’s Infinite Bidding™ system allows auction houses like Freeman’s to host live auctions on their own website, while broadcasting simultaneously with Artfact and its UK sister site Invaluable.
Online bidders accounted for 28% of total sales with 114 lots selling for $665,125— 79 of which sold to in-house bidders through Freeman’s Infinite Bidding™ site. Online demand also helped boost what are now considered modest pre-auction projections. Over 1,400 online bids worth $3.8 million were presented during the marathon sale, with the Lehman collection generating $1.35 million— double the presale estimate of $500,000 to $750,000 and accounting for more than half of the $2.5 million total.
Online demand also accounted for what writer Lindsey Pollock described as “inexplicable” prices. Yvonne Jacquette’s “Midnight Composite,” a bird’s eye view of Manhattan at night, sold online for $16,250— more than ten times the pre-auction estimate of $1,200 to $1,800. Similarly the opening lot of the sale, a Georges Schreiber portrait that hung in Lehman's New York Boardroom, garnered interest from over 25 online bidders— ultimately selling online for $20,000 or five times the pre-auction estimate of $4,000 to $6,000.
Even when it came to some of the more sought after items, online bidders remained unfazed. Of the top five selling lots, three sold online. These include Roy Liechtenstein’s iconic “I Love Liberty” which sold for $49,000; Renoir’s “Le Chapeau Epingle 2 Ieme Planche” which brought $61,000; and a Francis Newton Souza entitled “Country Landscape with Pond- Phoenicia N.Y.” which went for $39,400.
Some in the art world feel that the Freeman’s sale portends a turnaround in the market. Just last year, Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld attempted to sell 16 rare Abstract Expressionist works from his private collection. Expected to sell for over $20 million, the works brought just $13.5 million with several going unsold. However, for Artfact, the sale does not