Thursday, November 13, 2008

Auction results

Things did not go so well for Christie's and the Fulds last night. As reported, Lehman CEO Dick and MOMA trustee Kathy Fuld consigned a portion of their art collection to the auction house for sale at last night's auction of post-war and contemporary art. The sale included 16 drawings by Willem de Kooning, Agnes Martin, Arshile Gorky, Barnett Newman, and others. Today, Bloomberg reports that the Fulds' drawings garnered $13.5 million, significantly less than the $15 million low-end estimate before the sale.

Lot 49, the 1951 de Kooning Woman, failed to meet its low estimate of $3 million, coming in at $2,770,500 after the buyer's premium got tacked on. The rest of the auction appears to have gone somewhat worse than that. Sez Bloomberg:
The auction house sold $113.6 million of contemporary artworks, half its presale low estimate, as prices tumble.
But still, Dick 'n' Kathy have reason to celebrate today. Even if their stuff didn't make them as much as they might have liked, they turned a tidy profit. Bloomberg, again:
Among the Fulds' top lots was Gorky's 1946-47 ``Study for Agony I'' in pencil, crayon and ink, which sold for $2.2 million, at the low estimate. The Fulds bought the work at Christie's in New York in 1996 for $370,000.
Agony's premium is up these days, even if art in general is on the skids.

So far I've heard nothing about the NPR report yesterday that said Christie's guaranteed the Fulds $20 from the sale. ABC reports that number was the high estimate for the 16 drawings at auction, so the guaranteed return was almost certainly less than that figure. But I quibble. As ABC has it:
Fuld collected $10,900,000 in base salary and $77,475,000 in cash bonuses during his 14 years as Lehman's chief.
I'm certain he was worth all that and more to the thousands of Lehman's unemployed.

(Update: A later version of the Bloomberg article indicates that the Christie's guarantee to the Fulds may indeed have been $20 million.)

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