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Unfortunately for dealers and artists who have become accustomed to wealthy collectors competing with each other to drop millions on contemporary art, now that everyone is tightening the purse strings, the power balance has shifted: "Before, collectors had to take whatever art they could get from dealers and auction houses," says one dealer, "but now those collectors are saying, 'Kneel down and ask nicely.'"

At the mid-season London auctions, neither Christie's, Sotheby's, nor Phillips de Pury met their sale estimates. Some 38 of the 70 artworks offered by Phillips failed to sell, including pieces by Richard Prince, Lisa Yuskavage and Eric Fischl. If you're looking to pick up a bargain, Phillips' chairman Simon de Pury said he might try to reduce the reserve levels set for works at the auction house's New York sale next month—which means, we guess, that some lucky buyer with seven figures to spare might actually go home with a painting and a little bit of change in his or her pocket.

Not a Pretty Picture at Auctions [WSJ]