Eli Broad, where are you?

Never mind the stock market - if you want to get a nervous feel for where the economy is headed, take a look at last night's Sotheby's auction in NY. All told, $269.7 million was taken in, a third less than what had been expected. Sotheby's had promised sellers guaranteed prices for works by Van Gogh and Picasso, among others, regardless of whether the pictures sold. Some didn't, including Van Gogh's "The Fields (Wheat Fields)'' and Georges Braque's "L'Echo." Back in August, L.A. billionaire Eli Broad said art prices would fall as a result of the credit-market losses. It's the NY action that may slow down significantly, what with the hedge fund guys taking it on the chin (at least compared with last year). From Bloomberg:

The art-market boom quadrupled values for the top contemporary works, and sent values for Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko up many times more. Investors betting on a decline sold short 8.2 million Sotheby's shares, or about 13.3 percent of the stock available for trading, according to New York Stock Exchange data on Nov. 6. Short sellers sell borrowed shares, aiming to replace them with stock bought later at lower prices.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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