Donald Trump's election has helped boost optimism in the art market this week, and may lead to a faster recovery next year, Sotheby's CEO Tad Smith told CNBC Thursday.
The major auctions houses are expected to sell more than $1 billion worth of art in New York this week, with many of the top pieces having already shattering sales estimates. Those high prices reflect an optimistic mood among buyers, despite a recent slowdown in the market, Smith said.
The CEO's comments came hours before Sotheby's Post-war and Contemporary sale, which is expected to total more than $200 million.
"I think there's been a fairly good feeling among the art collectors this week," Smith said. "There's just a lot of very wealthy people from all types of countries... and they have a lot of capital to deploy."
The art market has recently suffered a correction, during which time some lesser pieces have failed to sell. With a few more sales to go at this week's auctions, Sotheby's and Christie's are expected to ring up more than $1 billion — nearly half of last year's total.
But Smith said that dip is not due to a lack of buyers, as collectors have not wavered from their demand for top works. The problem is instead due to a lack of supply from sellers, who have been nervous about political uncertainty and prices, he said.
"Everywhere I go around the world, and really for almost 15 or 16 months, we've had a large group of buyers that have plenty of money to spend and they want to buy things. The trouble particularly in the last six to 12 months has been there hasn't been enough that they were offering," Smith said.
"As long as we have a good, confident week, and I think we're going to do that, we're going to have more offered in the spring. That will free up the buyers. It's convincing those sellers that the buyers are there — that's the big opportunity."