The market for mid- to upper-range modern furniture and decorative arts in 2009 is flattening as the global economic downturn spreads into the antiques and collectibles markets. The market for mass modern seems to have peaked in 2008 and is now completing a flattening phase tending towards lower prices for lesser pieces and flat prices for rarities.
Modern decorative arts are still bucking the downward price spiral experienced in the antiques market recently.
The retail markets for high end are spotty as dealers fight in smaller circles for less goods. Buying trends for mass modern seem to be slowing as bargain shopping is the order of the day. Decorative arts, in particular remain strong as precious metal prices rise vs. the stock market.
Prices at local and regional auctions for named pieces are strong against the nationals and online auctioneers as bargains in the high end realm seem lesser and lesser daily. Mass modern and decorative arts by better manufacturers, even later, are flattening in price with few exceptions. Dealers and collectors are still willing to pay high prices for better pieces of studio work, one offs, or custom designs by a handful of better-known 20th century designers and architects, but the frequency of these offerings at auction seems to have diminished in the last quarter tending towards a future of less lots at higher prices as stalwart auction houses are calling consignors to lower reserves on previously estimated items to 'clean out the pipes.' Consignors seem to be leaning conservative on both consignments and reserves.
As in other recessionary years, rarities, provenance, collections, sets and multiples are what the market seems to want in 2009.
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