New York Auction Roundup: Week of impressionist, modern and contemporary

May 11th, 2008

Claude Monet, Le Pont du Chemin de fer a Argenteuil, (1873) via Bloomberg

A series of spring auctions in New York have proven to be successful despite some recent speculation about the market’s weakness due to setbacks in the financial and real estate markets. Bloomberg reported that Sotheby’s lost half of its value in the past year, but the company, at their Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 7th, sold a total of $235.3 million in their 52-lot auction, hovering right in the middle of their anticipated $203.9 million to $280.1 million range.

In the 58-lot auction at Christie’s on the previous evening, the sales totaled $277.3 million, just under their $287 million to $405 million estimate for the evening’s sales. This was the first time in four years that Christie’s sold beneath the total estimate. The Christie’s auction was dominated by European buyers, while, at Sotheby’s, Americans bought 67 percent of the sales. More details of each each auction after the jump.

Art: Auction Jitters [WSJ]
Putting a Price on Mao’s Head [WSJ]
Record Leger, Munch Sales Lead Slim Sotheby’s Auction [Bloomberg]
Sotheby’s Posts Loss on Lower Sales, Higher Salaries [Bloomberg]
Collectors Shrug Off Market Woes [Financial Times]
Americans Heaviest Bidders [NY Times]
Monet and Rodin Set Price Records at Christie’s [NY Times]
Auction houses put faith in $1.8bn art sales [Financial Times]
Art market shows strength at Christie’s sale of Impressionist and Modern Art [Herald Tribune]
Record Monet Fails to Stem Dip in Christie’s Impressionist Sale [Bloomberg]
Sotheby’s Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art Sets Record for Fernand Leger [Art Daily]
Monet and Rodin Set Price Records at Christie’s [NY Times]

Edvard Munch, Girls on a Bridge, (1902) via WSJ

Among the night’s most popular and highest priced works at Sotheby’s were Fernand Leger’s painting, Study for the Woman in Blue, (1912-13), which sold for $39.2 million and Edvard Munch’s 1902 painting Girls on a Bridge for $30.8 million. Despite a total of 11 lots not selling at the auction, Sotheby’s is confident about the fact that the top-notch lots are still selling for high dollar amounts.

Fernand Leger, Study for the Woman in Blue, (1912-13) via NYT

At Christie’s, an anonymous telephone bidder bought Monet’s, Le Pont du Chemin de fer a Argenteuil for $41.5 million. The second highest priced lot, purchased by Gagosian Gallery, was Alberto Giacometti’s 1960 sculpture Grand Femme Debout II. Although Christie’s missed its low estimate, they said that the evening still produced the third highest total in its category.

Jeff Koons, Self-Portrait, 1991 via Phillips DePury

With upcoming Contemporary Art auctions in New York, the companies hope to keep the sales up. From the 13th to the 16th of May, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips de Pury, and Bonhams will all be hosting Contemporary Art auctions. Some of the headliner lots include a Francis Bacon tryptic valued at $70 million, Jeff Koons’ 1991 Self-Portrait, and a “robust” Lucian Freud painting.

Christie’s hopes to sell $280 million at the auction, while Sotheby’s, with its high priced Bacon, expects to take in about $291 million in sales. The total of the auctions, when the May sales are through, is expected to be about $1.8 billion.