We are greatly looking forward to an engrossing Summer auction season with some fabulous works on display in both the auction house galleries and the surrounding dealerships of Mayfair and St. James’s. Whilst the highlights of the forthcoming art auctions are incomparable to the New York mega-sales in May, I do think this is a season that will see the best opportunities to buy in a long while, perhaps since 2009. The lowering of the Sotheby’s buyer’s premium from 27% to 20% should see a palpable difference in their sales this Summer. We are in the crux of a ‘new’ art market this year as buyers are, for the mid-market, now in charge. Previously it was the seller that was courted for their treasures but now, with interest rates ‘higher for longer’ and capital liquidity waning, those that have bided their time and kept their powder dry, will be very happy indeed.

The fact that Sotheby’s have no competition from Christie’s (with their Evening sales postponed until October) makes for a fascinating season. Will the lack of work available make for higher prices or will the lack of choice ostracize collectors already keen to head off on holiday? My gut says that Sotheby’s have worked incredibly hard to put together a decent season and they will see real success – especially with the new price structure and the small but beautiful Goldenberg Collection.

All three houses have been courting clients and advisors for guarantees across the board and there are wonderful deals to be done on some truly stunning works. My highlights are mainly in the Sotheby’s evening sale with a fabulous 1870s Thames view by Sisley the best of the Impressionist offerings. Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter and Cy Twombly are represented as part of the Goldenberg Collection; a lovely group of mid-market mid-20th Century works of real quality. Much is hanging on the pre-sold Basquiat that failed to garner interest in 2022 at Christie’s, but with the guarantee it now looks like real value – even for a flatlining Basquiat market.

Over at Christie’s I do wonder if they have saved their best for the October sales and also to ensure that most of the press is focused on the staggering Titian they are offering in July. The advent of a concertinaed auction season makes the idea of a great Old Masters sale and a great Modern Sale in the same two week period a tricky balancing act. Yet Christie’s are showing a handful of good works in a Mid-Season ‘Post-War to Present’ sale that is definitely worth a look. Highlights include a glorious little Freud sketch of a Praying Mantis, a very good Philip Guston work on paper and a super Nicolas Party watercolour that is, in my book, under-estimated. They are also helped by a large range of Chagall works on paper in a separate sale. Chagall’s market knows no bounds and the market’s appetite for his work appears indefatigable – the consistent high calibre (and invention) of his output makes his work such a strong buy at present even with these large estate-driven sales.

Finally, Phillip’s have brought their Evening and Day Sales together and are showing a keen selection of Contemporary work. A large George Condo from 2018, a superb Lynette Yiadom-Boakye triptych and very well-priced Marina Perez Simão are three of their better works. Also, look out for one of the finest Billy Childish paintings (‘Girl in swimming, Yuga River’) I have ever seen in their day sale – very well estimated indeed.

The sales and their links are as follows:

Tuesday 25th June:

Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Evening Sale at 1800 BST

Wednesday 26th June:

Sotheby’s Modern Day Sale at 1100 BST

Sotheby’s Contemporary Day Sale at 1400 BST

Christie’s Chagall Sale at 1500 BST (ONLINE)

Thursday 27th June:

Christie’s ‘Post War to Present’ Sale at 12pm BST

Phillip’s Modern and Contemporary (Evening and Day) Auction at 1500 BST

Do get in touch if I can help with any advice and please, do use an advisor when spending significant funds!