Would you pay $US28 million for this one-ton steel sculpture of Popeye?
If you’re Steve Wynn, the answer appears to be, Why not. The casino magnate was the lone bidder for the 2009 Jeff Koons piece in a Wednesday Sotheby’s auction that saw mixed results, with a dozen works, including another Koons piece, a glass case of three basketballs floating in water — going unsold.
In fact, Sotheby’s now trails rival auction house Christie’s significantly — check out this chart from Art Tactic (via Art Market Monitor) showing evening sales levels.
The Wall Street Journal recently discussed what’s behind the divergence: While Christie’s has diversified its customer base in recent years, Sotheby’s has doubled-down on the highest-end bidders. It’s the old funds-versus-flows debate, and Christie’s seems to be winning.
Wynn said he plans to display Popeye at one of his Las Vegas hotels.
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