NEW YORK, May 13 — New York’s major auction houses were preparing for the start of their all-important Spring sales today even as Christie’s came under a cyberattack that affected its website.

After a drop in sales in 2023, there is hope among the hammer-wielders that good results in Europe so far this year will be repeated stateside.

David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Leonora Carrington, Joan Mitchell, Brice Marden, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alberto Giacometti, Georgia O’Keeffe are among the prominent artists on offer when Sotheby’s gets the season underway today.

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Christie’s and Phillips follow tomorrow.

There will be no shortage of works by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso in the increasingly globalised market which is still dominated by US collectors.

Christie’s, which confirmed it was the victim of a cyberattack on its systems, including the website, expects to bring in between US$578 million and US$846 million (RM2.7 billion and RM4 billion) for the sale of some 900 works.

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“A technology security issue has impacted some of our systems, including our website. We are taking all necessary steps to manage this matter,” a Christie’s spokeswoman told AFP.

Sotheby’s is setting the bar slightly higher than last year, hoping to fetch between US$549 million and US$784 million.

“The market is honestly more defined by supply than it is by demand, we’re having no difficulty selling things, we’re having more difficulty getting people to consign them,” said Sotheby’s head of contemporary art sales Lucius Elliott.

14 per cent drop

With sales of US$14.9 billion last year, the art market saw a 14 per cent drop compared to 2022, although online transactions saw a 285 per cent jump.

Unlike Sotheby’s, which has put together the more than 700 works it offers for sale, piece by piece, Christie’s most prominent works come from two private collections.

One of those collections belonged to late television pioneer Norman Lear and his wife Lyn, with David Hockney’s A Lawn Being Sprinkled worth an estimated between US$25 million and US$35 million, among the stand-out pieces.

“There are probably fewer collections this season than there have been historically for idiosyncratic reasons, but we have great collections (which) will be on the market this season again,” said Christie’s vice president Max Carter, adding that the March sales in London were among the highest ever.

At Sotheby’s, the jewel in the sale crown is a Francis Bacon portrait with an estimate of US$30 million to US$50 million.

It is the first large-scale painting Bacon did of his then-partner George Dyer in 1966 and the first of ten works he did of the latter before he died on the eve of his death. — ETX Studio