Yesterday’s Contemporary Day Sale (previewed) at Sotheby’s in London only had a few lots that AM was closely watching, but the results are a good sign for the overall market.

In particular, Faile received a much needed boost with their large canvas “New York City 02” (Lot # 169) selling right in the middle of the estimate for 49,250 GBP and the smaller “NYC Butterfly Girl” on wood (Lot # 168) selling for 16,250 GBP, well over the 12,000 GBP high estimate. Faile has not been performing well at auction since Fall of 2008, but today’s results will hopefully bolster collectors’ confidence in their work. A year ago, Faile would sell out work in much publicized lotteries that gave collectors the “chance” to purchase their prints and originals, while now, last week’s releases remain available after over a week on the market (even though prices are lower and editions are smaller).

The state of the current Faile market can be blamed on the availability of work on the secondary market from sellers who bought very affordable pieces just a few years ago and are now willing (or forced by circumstance) to sell well below the peak price points of last year since they are still making a profit.  And, also to speculators who bought more recent high priced work with the expectation that they could always offload it fast for cash. Unfortunately, this has been shaking the confidence of more serious collectors, driving down the prices and the demand. After today’s results, forward-thinking buyers will be more inclined to pick up some of the available bargains and the market will hopefully start to stabilize. We are looking forward to seeing what Faile comes up with for their rumored solo exhibition in Portugal.

More analysis and observations after the jump…

Chinese Contemporary had a decent outing with Yue Minjun’s “Hope” (Lot # 266) selling well over the high estimate of 150,000 GBP for 193,250 GBP, Feng Zhengjie’s “Untitled” (Lot # 265) selling just over the high estimate for 44,450 GBP and Yan Pei-Ming’s “Double (Maurizio Cattelan)” (Lot # 263) selling close to the high estimate for 42,050 GBP. Many market pundits have been predicting the total collapse of the Chinese Contemporary market but it seems certain artists are still in great demand. Unfortunately, Zhang Xiaogang’s “Portrait” (Lot # 264) failed to sell.

Banksy also had a good day with the great little “Keep It Real” canvas (Lot # 170) selling well over the high estimate of 15,000 GBP for 23,750 GBP and his “Untitled (Flower Thrower)” from the edition of five selling for 43,250 GBP (Lot # 174). Not bad for a piece that probably cost about $500 in 2002, but we don’t know what the most recent owner paid and today’s sale wasn’t much over the low estimate.

The big surprise of the day was Yoshitomo Nara’s “Untitled” (Lot #270) selling for 46,850 GBP, almost four times the high estimate and his “The Little Pilgrim (Night Walking)” (Lot # 272) selling for almost double the high estimate at 39,650 GBP. Nara’s work continues to be at the front of the Japanese contemporary scene along with Takashi Murakami who’s “Kaikai” (Lot # 271) sold over the high estimate for 39,650 GBP.

Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” (Lot # 215) sold for 145,250 GBP, well over the high estimate of 120,000 GBP and his “Portrait Of Barbara And Clari Molasky” (Lot # 221) sold for 133,250 GBP, also well above the high estimate of 90,000 GBP. Other Warhol’s also did well.

The “Untitled” Wangechi Mutu (Lot # 260) sold just over the high estimate at 36,050 GBP while Damien Hirst struggled to get over estimate on his “The Very End of Pain” (Lot # 164) and Ryan Mcginness “Untitled (Black Hole)” sold over estimate.