• Issue
  • Jan 02, 2024

Auctions: Undercurrents Rise Above

RENE MAGRITTE, Le miroir universel, 1938-39, oil on canvas, 116 × 89 cm. Courtesy Sotheby’s Hong Kong. 

In comparison to art fairs, where the artworks on display reflect what galleries hope is most appealing to collectors while transactional information is largely kept secret, auctions represent a relatively more transparent side of the art market—with numbers flashed on giant screens and then data-mined after the fact. Though not without speculation or potential price-flooring, sales at auctions are representative of broader trends among collectors. Ultimately, the artworks’ prices reflect buyers’ speculative strategies, with certain creators becoming regulars on the auction scene, reflecting the investor-mentality that ebbs and flows across diverse categories as collectors search for good-value propositions.