On Monday, one of Claude Monet's paintings of water lilies,"Nymphéas," fetchedover £31.7 million (about $53.9 million) at an auction at Sotheby's in London.That was the second-highest ever paid for a Monet painting. The auctionfeatured other popular modern artists, including Piet Mondrian and PabloPicasso, and took in almost £122 million ($207.2 million).
These high prices echo some of the top dollars spent in2006, just before the financial crisis. In November 2006, entertainment tycoonDavid Geffen sold two of his paintings for record-breaking amounts. FintechAdvisory's David Guzman reportedly paid Geffen $140 million for JacksonPollock's "No. 5, 1948" in what was then the most ever paid for a painting.That was followed up the very same month when Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capitalbought Willem de Kooning's "Woman III" from Geffen for about $137.5 million,then the second-highest for a painting.
Within a year of those two sales, the U.S. stock marketpeaked. We all know what happened next.
But, is a hot art market a sign of an overheated stock market?
According to Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico, money is going into art because there aren't enoughgood deals in stocks.
"When there's excess money in the market, you tend to see itflowing into the collectibles," said Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. "The artmarket is a perfect example. The European Fine Art Foundation released a marketreport that showed that the average auction prices in Britain are up 82percent, and in the U.S. up 100 percent from 2009 to 2013. If that isn't anindicator of liquidity, I'm not sure what is."
Nonetheless, stocks may continue to move higher if StevenPytlar, chief equity strategist at Prime Executions, is correct. He sees thebenchmark S&P 500 index continuing along an uptrend begun in August 2011.That's sort of picture could be worth a lot more than any painting if theperspective is right.
"The charts are actually very strong," said Pytlar. "Sincethe 2011 bottom, you can see that it's been very stable, and we don't see priceextending or diverging from that trend in a meaningful way."
A topping process forms when there's a big move away fromthe trend line, Pytlar said. "We just don't see that right now," he added."What we see is an ongoing uptrend, and we're still positive."