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    Kravis, Fuld Brace for N.Y. Auctions as Collectors Lower Prices

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    Kravis, Fuld Brace for N.Y. Auctions as Collectors Lower Prices

    Post by sang_garuda on Fri Oct 31, 2008 6:59 pm

    Henry Kravis and Richard Fuld are among the art collectors who will make millions of dollars at New York's auctions next week while many other sellers' hopes could be dashed.

    Christie's International and Sotheby's are mounting their two-week, bellwether November sales of impressionist, modern and contemporary art starting on Monday -- with many of the works gathered before the brunt of the global financial crisis.

    Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. co-founder Kravis and Lehman Brothers Chief Executive Officer Fuld are among the sellers. The auction houses guaranteed them payment even if the artworks don't sell, and they could see even bigger profits if the works sell for more than the guarantees.

    ``Right now I'm seeing a market frozen in expectation, waiting to see what the next two weeks will bring,'' said private New York dealer Christopher Eykyn. ``There is a sense that the market is re-calibrating and the auctions will provide a new yardstick as to what the new level is.''

    On the heels of the red-hot May auctions, which tallied $1.56 billion, the sales are projected to total up to $1.76 billion.

    Just this week, the art market received a no-confidence vote.

    A 1909 cubist Picasso painting, ``Arlequin,'' estimated to sell for $30 million, was yanked from Sotheby's Nov. 3 lineup. The seller withdrew it for ``private reasons,'' Sotheby's spokeswoman Diana Phillips said. Dealers speculate that the seller wasn't willing to lower the minimum price.

    Making Adjustments

    To prevent sales from tanking, Sotheby's and Christie's have tried to convince sellers to lower estimates and secret minimum reserves prices, following the weak October London auctions.

    ``After London, we contacted people and talked about adjustments,'' said Alex Rotter, head of Sotheby's contemporary art in New York. ``You will be paying 20 percent to 30 percent less than you would have a couple of months ago.''


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