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Like a classic Mexican standoff, the market for blue-chip art has come to a virtual standstill. The storyline goes something like this: The only speculators/collectors willing to sell want yesterday’s prices. The only speculators/collectors open to buying want today’s prices. That being the case, precious few deals are getting done.the reality is warhols freight wig paintings were never blue-chip to begin with, that is if blue-chip still confers important work.
With the price declines at last November’s auctions, collectors and dealers alike were licking their chops at the thought of scooping up art at 50 cents on the dollar. Fear was in the air. Prior to the sale, auction house experts were actually telling collectors (off the record) what it would take to secure certain guaranteed paintings. After the sale, Sotheby’s and Christie’s public relations departments did their best to put a positive spin on the results. But veteran collectors weren’t buying it. They were too busy plotting how to get that $5 million Mark Rothko painting on paper for only $2.5 million -- or less.
On a personal level, my first thought was that my Andy Warhol green Fright Wig that I sold for $375,000 in May, 2005 -- which would have been valued at several million dollars during the market’s acme (London sales of June 2007) -- was back to being worth around $375,000 again. These thoughts were confirmed by the recent results brought by a triumvirate of small "Fright Wig" paintings that averaged a little over $400,000 apiece, at Sotheby’s February 2009 sales in London.