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Art As The Wall Street Bellwether: Uh Oh!

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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I WAS TOLD THERE'D BE IT Sharon Core, Around the Cake (Photo: Bellwether Gallery) Of the 235 or so works of contemporary and post-war art up for auction at Christie's "First Open" sale today, 172 were sold. The most expensive item—a Cindy Sherman photograph—sold for $750,000. (With fees: $902,500.) That is not shabby! However? Back in Christie's contemporary and post-war auction this April, a bit more than 30 percent of works were sold above the high estimate; today, just around 26 percent were sold above the high estimate. In spring, around one in five works went unsold; today, one in 4 went unsold. And in the February 2007 auction, only 13 percent went unsold, and only 13 percent were sold below estimate. Today, almost 20 percent of the works up for sale went below estimate. You know what this means? This means Wall Street doom is coming this winter. Oh look, Lehman Brothers just lost 40 percent of its stock value this afternoon! And they are taking the Dow down with them!

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