The forthcoming May sales look to be as strong as ever, albeit without a real knockout single owner auction to match the likes of a Cox, Allen or Taubman. Overall, there are 14 sales, boasting works across the 20th and 21st Centuries, which look to be full of high calibre works of art with a wonderful diversity of artists throughout – from the likes of a vast Grace Hartigan at Phillip’s to the four stunning Mitchells at Sotheby’s. Reggie Burrows Hodges’ fabulous  ‘In the service of others’ is a welcome highlight from one of the great contemporary colourists – he paints with a black primer layer which is a novel method to highlight the richness of his palette: they glow in the contrast. My gut is that the market will prove resilient at the top end though the back of the Day sales looks characteristically weak, which could prove problematic with so many sales, online especially, watering down the calibre of the middle market.

There are a remarkable number of Monets on view to underline the established fervour for Impressionism which is quite rightly being celebrated for its 150th anniversary. In 1874, at a photographer’s studio, the first of their eight shows from 1874-1886. Perhaps my favourite lot of the bunch is a fabulous coastal work coming up at Christie’s. Valued at 6-8m USD ‘La Roche Guibel’ could be at least 10-15m, and I would really recommend a look – the brushwork is sensational and far more appealing than the saccharine south of France paintings that command even richer sums. The Impressionists are well represented apart from Monet too with Sisley, Pissarro and Renoir throughout the online catalogues. Note the 1-1.5m USD Sisley entitled ‘Chemin a l’entrée d’un bois’ which is a crackerjack. In the Modern sphere there is the usual gamut of Picasso paintings – from the visceral late ‘Peintres’ to the extraordinary, delicate, works on paper in the Day Sales. There is so much value to be had in works on paper this term and I would recommend the Christie’s works on paper sale as the place to go for exceptional value.

I read with interest that commentators are indicating that this series is going to fall short due to failing demand. I have never felt that falling demand has been a problem. the problem has been in the products on offer by auction houses (irrevocable bids etc.) which have led to inflated prices. Comparable works of art offered at attractive estimates have, in my opinion, always outperformed those works offered with an ‘Irrevocable Bid’ and/or a pushed ‘Guarantee’.

Enjoy the views and if I can help do reach out. As ever, please heed my advice: always use an advisor when you are spending significant sums!

The sales and links are as follows:

13th May 2024

Sotheby’s New York, NOW Evening Sale at 1830 EDT

Sotheby’s New York, Contemporary Evening Sale at 1900 EDT

14th May 2024

Sotheby’s Contemporary Day Sale at 0900 EDT

Phillip’s Contemporary Evening Sale at 1700 EDT

Christie’s: The Rosa de la Cruz Sale at 1900 EDT

Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale at 2000 EDT

15th May 2024

Phillip’s Contemporary Day Sale (Morning) at 1000 EDT

Phillip’s Contemporary Day Sale (Afternoon) at 1400 EDT

Sotheby’s Modern Evening Sale at 1900 EDT

16th May 2024

Sotheby’s Modern Day Sale at 1000 EDT

Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale at 1900 EDT

17th May 2024

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Day Sale 1000 & 1400 EDT

18th May 2024

Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Day Sale (Works on paper) at 10am EDT

Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Day Sale at 1400 EDT