"I've never seen such a major change of taste," Edward Dolman, chief executive of Christie's, said in Monday's New York Post.
"We have new clients, and their tastes are new tastes," Dolman said. "We're looking at new money and new geographic areas of buying."
Prices soared for 20th-century masters such as Egon Schiele, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francis Bacon, while subdued impressionist canvases by classic artists either didn't sell or brought lower prices than auction house experts predicted, the Times said. Dolman said the reason for the shift is that great impressionist paintings are rare and when they become available, their prices are exorbitant.
He also said today's buyer rarely wants to spend more than $10 million for a painting and is not interested in bucolic landscapes to hang in a home.
London's auction houses hosted art sales throughout last week.
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