Following in the Footsteps of Other Auction Houses, Sotheby’s Will Postpone its Marquee May Sales

In place of the postponed auctions in May, Sotheby's is launching two new online sales.

The scene at Sotheby's postwar and contemporary evening sale in New York on November 15. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s has announced that it will postpone its May sales in New York, following similar steps taken last month by Christie’s and Phillips.

A new date for its anticipated “gigaweek” auctions has not yet been announced. The other auction houses’ events, which will combine their London and New York sales, are expected to take place at the end of June. 

To fill the vacuum now left in May, Sotheby’s will launch two new online day auctions: a contemporary sale and an Impressionist and Modern art sale. Bidding for both auctions will run May 4 through May 14. 

Richard Prince, <i>3 Jokes Painted to Death or 3 Jokes Really Painted</i> (1987), which will be included in Sotheby's Contemporary Art Day Auction Online in May.

Richard Prince, 3 Jokes Painted to Death or 3 Jokes Really Painted (1987), which will be included in Sotheby’s contemporary online day auction in May.

“Our new online day sales will be anchored by the same top-quality, exciting selection of works by sought-after artists of the 19th through the 21st centuries that the market has come to expect from our day sale program,” says Scott Niichel, head of the auction houses’s Impressionist and Modern Art day sales in New York, in a statement. 

Niichel adds that the house is “still actively—and responsibly—sourcing for these auctions, and encourage collectors to start a dialogue with us about how we can best meet their needs.”

The company has had success with its online sales since it put its in-person auctions on hold. For example, its sale of Banksy prints, which concluded March 26, totaled $1.4 million—well exceeding the pre-sale estimate. And yesterday, Sotheby’s first online-only auction of Modern and contemporary Middle Eastern solidly met expectations with a $2.6 million total. (Since January 1, the auction house’s online sales have altogether earned more than $35 million.)

“During this unprecedented moment when live auctions are not possible, collectors worldwide have enthusiastically participated in our online sales program, driving results that demonstrate the resilience of the global art market,” says Nicole Schloss, co-head of Sotheby’s day auctions of contemporary art in New York.

The pair of recently announced May sales will also be accompanied by a new digital catalogue, which will include video and interactive media.

Any further changes to its upcoming auction calendar will be announced “approximately 30 days prior to the existing sale date,” Sotheby’s says.


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