Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise, Robe Bleue, 1939 (est. $6.4-13 million, realized $29 million), via Christies.com
Christie’s marathon evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art in London on Tuesday evening realized $227 million for 80 lots sold. The sum fell comfortably within presale estimates of $186-265 million despite the fact that the top lot, Monet’s Nymphéas, failed to sell against a high estimate $40 million. The auction included several lots from the estate of Ernst Beyeler, the late Swiss dealer and co-founder of Art Basel. The sale began with Mr. Beyeler’s 17th century walnut & fruitwood desk, which sold for nearly half a million dollars against a high estimate of $20,000. The evening’s top lot did not come directly from the Beyeler estate, though its provenance includes a pass through the Galerie Beyeler. Picasso‘s Femme Assise, Robe Bleue carried a high estimate of $13 million but sold for $29 million, allegedly to Greek financier Dimitri Mavrommatis. The painting of Picasso’s lover, Dora Maar, belonged to renowned art dealer Paul Rosenberg and was confiscated by the Nazis in 1940. It was eventually seized by the French Resistance and restituted by the Commission de Récuperation. Pittsburgh collector G. David Thompson acquired the work from Rosenberg and sold it to the Galerie Beyeler at a 1966 sale at Sotheby’s Parke Bernet. Tuesday night’s selling party bought the painting from the Galerie Beyeler two years later.
Pablo Picasso, Jeune Fille Endormie, 1935 (est. $14.5-19.3 million, realized $21 million), via Christies.com
The sale’s other top lots were also paintings by Picasso of his lovers. Marie-Thèrése Walter’s portrait realized $21 million against a high estimate of $19 million, with proceeds funding health research at the University of Sydney in Australia. A 1946 portrait of Françoise Gilot, mother of two of Picasso’s children, sold for $17 million against estimates of $11-16 million. Buste de Françoise came from the Beyeler estate.
Claude Monet, Nymphéas, c. 1914-1917 (est. $27.4-39.7 million, bought in), via Christies.com
Works by Picasso in ceramic performed extraordinarily well, too. Four pieces of pottery expected to bring up to $203,000 fetched $470,000. All are from the Beyeler estate and are unique works. They are a small portion of the Beyeler collection of Picasso ceramics, more of which will be sold on Wednesday during the day sale. The prices paid for Deux Poissons and Centaure et Musicien are in line with those for drawings by the artist.
The Christie’s sale gave this round of auctions a very strong start. Rival auction house Sotheby’s will host their evening Impressionist & Modern sale Wednesday night. Check back for results.
– J. Mizrachi
Picasso’s Mistress, Lover Portraits Soar to $51.2 Million [Bloomberg]
Picasso paintings sell for £42 million at London sale [AFP]
Picasso lovers win hearts at Christie’s sale [Reuters]
Greek Financier Pays Christie’s $29 Million for a Picasso [Wall Street Journal]