The Return of the MEGA Sales at Sotheby's confirmed their Importance to the Auction House

The Return of the MEGA Sales at Sotheby's confirmed their Importance to the Auction House

Posted by Pi-eX Research on 21st Jul 2020

Within a few days from June 26th to June 30th 2020, Sotheby's arranged six Live auctions and in this very short timeframe sold in value almost twice as much as it did since the beginning of the year via its pure online auctions.  

What are these auctions and how did they perform in comparison to previous years'? 

These are the questions the latest Pi-eX MESO reports can easily answer.

1. This year's Sotheby's "May New York MEGA Week" took place end of June - rather than May - and consisted in a reshuffle of some of  its classic MEGA auctions:

As clearly visible on the graph above, the May New York Mega Week has historically and systematically included the five following auctions: American Art, Impressionist Day and Evening and Contemporary Day and Evening auctions. Occasionally, an additional single owner private collection is added to the mix.

This year, the American Art auction kicked off the series of the New York MEGA Week sales on Friday June 26th. This was followed by the Impressionist Art Day Sale on Monday June 29th, ahead of the much expected Sotheby's new Hybrid Live/online evening sale, which combined three sales into one very long sale on the evening of June 29th 2020.  Finally, the Contemporary Art Day Sale concluded the series on June 30th.

2. With sales being combined, buyers were offered a reduced number of lots to bid on:

The reduced number of lots was particularly striking at evening sales.  While combining three key evening sales (the May New York Impressionist evening sale, the May New York Contemporary evening sale with an additional single owner private collection sale), Sotheby's new Hybrid Live/online evening sale on June 29th counted 76 lots auctioned versus 171 lots for the equivalent evening sales last year (a 56% reduction year on year in number of lots auctioned).  

Interestingly, Day sales did not see such a decline (except for the American Art sale) as the total number of lots auctioned at the May New York Contemporary day sale and the May New York Impressionist day sale were respectively 356 and 281 versus 363 and 315 in 2019, which represents a very marginal 2% decline in the number of lots auctioned for Contemporary art and an 11% decline for Impressionist art sold at day sales.

3. Total revenue from the postponed May New York MEGA week sales showed a sharp drop in revenue versus 2019:

While the total revenue generated by the 2020 May New York sales was not the worse ever (at $464 million, it was more than twice the revenue generated in 2009), it still was just half the revenue generated a year before by the same sales.  

Most affected was the May New York Impressionist evening sale, which plummeted by more than 80% generating only $63 million this year versus $350 million last year.

For further details on specific sales, consult Pi-eX May New York MICRO reports on the auctions composing the May New York MEGA sales.