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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Art

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The Art of Recovery?

November 5, 2010 - 11:39 AM | by: Douglas Kennedy

Despite today’s encouraging labor report, jobs , in many parts of the country are still few and far between. And consumer confidence has remained flat….but don’t tell that to consumers of art, who were spending this week in New York like it was still 2006.

On Wednesday, Sotheby’s Auction House saw Amedeo Modigliani’s “La Belle Romaine” sell for 68 million dollars.

“The audience was shocked,” said Auctioneer Tobias Meyer, who pointed out the previous record for a Modigliani’ was 32 million. “We were completely blown away.”

And La Belle wasn’t the only record breaking art-item sold this week.

Christie’s auction house saw a colorful cubist painting by Juan Gris sell for 28 million. It also saw a Matisse statue of a woman’s back sell for over 48 million. Both exceeded expectations and easily set records for the artists.

All in all, Christie’s and Sotheby’s say they saw dozens of lots sell for over 1 million dollars, and many sell for well over 10 million dollars. Sotheby’s says its sale of Contemporary and Modern Art is up 183 percent from last year.

Some call increased art-sales an economic indicator that the economy is about to recover. But not everyone.

“I think art has reemerged,” said Heidi Lee as she walked in Midtown Manhattan Thursday afternoon, “as a viable asset for investments.”

Lee is an art consultant and advises wealthy collectors about art-investing. She says art has become a place to put money in order to diversify. “The way some people invest in gold,” she said.

But she says. “You want to be very careful.”

She says it’s important to know good art from bad art before investing. And she says not all sectors of the art world are doing well.

“The higher end of the market is doing much better than the lower end, which is not performing as well.”

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