Art World In Major Slump

It's official: The art market has crashed and just like with real estate, expensive artworks are now worth considerably less than their owners paid for them. Shares of Sotheby's, worth $50 a year ago, have fallen to $9, and the auction house is now planning to let staff go—or, as CEO William Ruprecht puts it, "we'll be resizing our organization." Previously white-hot artists are finding that collectors are no longer fighting to pay millions for their pieces, although it's hard to feel too bad for anyone who's ever sold a canvas daubed with paint for seven figures.

Dealers, meanwhile, are taking advantage of the less competitive marketplace, with most of the art that did sell at the recent round of auctions going to the likes of Larry Gagosian, Jack Tilton and Robert Mnuchin. Naturally, gallerists are now focused on selling to the very richest collectors, like the ones expected to attend the American International Art Fair in February, which is offering enticements like "golf outings, private museum tours and dinner at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago." Sounds fabulous, assuming that assurances are offered that the Donald himself won't actually be present.

The Fine Art of Surviving the Crash in Auction Prices [WSJ]