Sotheby’s Greek Sale hit by crisis

Judging by the results of Sotheby?s Greek Sale in London on May 9, it appears that the economic crisis in Greece has dealt a heavy blow to the art market. Compared to the auction house?s last Greek Sale in November, which totaled 3.91 million euros, turnover plummeted to 2.7 million euros, with only one work reaching a record price for the artist, a painting by Yannis Gaitis. Out of the 131 works that went under the hammer, only 63 works were eventually sold, leaving a number of impressive works by landmark Greek artists unsold.

The ongoing fall in turnover is noteworthy, if one considers past figures: The auction house?s Greek Sale in spring 2008, for instance, totaled 11.8 million euros, while that of November 2007 reached 11.5 million euros. This week?s figures, on the other hand, are similar to those from before 2005, back when Greeks had just discovered the joys of collecting and of Greek art sales conducted on British soil. It seems that six years later, the majority of those who own artworks are trying to sell while only a few are buying what is going under the hammer, usually sold at particularly good prices.

Back in London, only one of the top-five-estimated works was actually sold: Yiannis Moralis?s ?Erotiko? was ranked fifth on the list and ended up fetching the lowest estimate. It reached 272,926 euros, including commission, and was declared the event?s most expensive artwork sold. At the same time, works by Yannis Tsarouchis, Konstantinos Parthenis, Constantinos Volanakis and Theofilos went unsold.

Volanakis?s ?Departure? came in second, changing owner for 218,624 euros. Other works, such as Michalis Economou?s painting ?The House That He Dreams Of (Hydra),? would probably have fetched a higher price a few years ago than the 137,170 euros it managed in London. Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika?s ?Flowers? came fourth at 137,170 euros, followed by Constantine Maleas?s ?Olive Trees (Mytilene),? which fetched 110,019 euros.

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