Greek art sales feel economic heat

There is little doubt that the current financial crisis is affecting Greek sales at international auction houses – a look at last year’s sensational turnover at Sotheby’s compared to this year’s results illustrates the point. The Greek sale that took place in London on May 6 raised 3,122,916 euros, a much lower sum compared to previous sales – 7,429,299 euros last November and 11,866,665 euros in May of last year. Of the 124 works that went under the hammer, 86 were sold. Constantine Frangos, senior director of 19th-century European and Greek paintings at Sotheby’s, noted, «The results are encouraging, as we managed to reach a much higher figure than the initial low estimate, as well as a steady percent of sales, which reached 70 percent.» Frangos had highlighted «Flight from Chios,» a work by Francesco Hayez (1791-1881), a leading artist of Italian Romanticism, as the sale’s highlight. In the end, however, the painting did not find a buyer at the sale – though it was subsequently sold to a private individual for 679,413 euros. «Naturally, we are disappointed that Hayez’s work did not manage to sell during the auction, yet we are very pleased, given that, following the event, we conducted a private sale and the work went to an anonymous buyer,» said Frangos. At the auction, the highest price fetched for a painting was George Bouzianis’s «Figures,» which sold for 197,823 euros, followed by Yannis Tsarouchis’s «Dominic» and «The Four Seasons» which sold for 170,731 euros and 163,959 euros respectively. Fourth place was taken by Alekos Fassianos and «Petite suite anachronique ou la vie d’Anastasios» for 143,640 euros, followed by Konstantinos Volanakis and «Greek Ship» for 136,867 euros.