Sotheby’s 35-lot sale of Impressionist and Modern art in London on Wednesday night realized $157 million for 32 lots sold against estimates of $124-178 million. The evening’s top lot was a rare Schiele cityscape that brought in $40 million (or $35.5 million without fees) and set a record for the artist at auction. The painting was sold by the Leopold Museum in Vienna to raise the $19 million necessary to settle the restitution case of another Schiele in their collection. The previous artist record was set at Christie’s in 2006 with the sale of a cityscape for $22 million.
Like the Schiele, many of the auction’s top lots sold for prices near their low estimates. A three-figure Giacometti sculpture estimated to fetch $16-24 million sold for $17 million, and a late Picasso painting that carried a low estimate of $9.7 million fetched $10.6 million. The pint-sized sale had few surprises but managed to avoid a big-ticket failure like the Monet at Christie’s on Tuesday night. The Schiele and the Giacometti bore irrevocable third-party bids.
The third lot that carried an irrevocable bid was Tamara de Lempicka‘s deliciously deco La Dormeuse. The painting of a sleeping beauty set a record for the artist at auction when it sold for $6.4 million. La Dormeuse was last at auction in 1997 at Christie’s and sold then for $294,000.
Paintings by Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico as well as a sculpture by Wilhelm Lehmbruk were the three flops of the evening. While Christie’s clearly had an advantage this week by securing the Beyeler estate, Sotheby’s did well with the inventory they had. Next week the auction houses stage their Contemporary art auctions beginning with Phillips de Pury on Monday. Check back for a preview of those sales.
Sotheby’s Results [Sotheby's]
Schiele and Picasso Draw Interest at London Auctions [New York Times]
Sotheby’s Makes $155 Million as Record Schiele Work Tops Cut-Down Auction [Bloomberg]
Schiele painting goes for record £25 million at London sale [AFP]
Schiele’s Record-Setting Laundry Led Sotheby’s $148 Million Impressionist and Modern Sale in London [Artinfo]