Wassily Kandinsky, Studie für Improvisation 8 (1909) which sold for a record breaking $23,042,500, image courtesy Christie’s
Despite a nor’easter last night in New York, Christie’s had a full house for its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, which boasted a sale total of $204, 800,000 with just 48 of 69 lots sold. The sales achieved were not always consistent but very high numbers were reached during many bids. The value sold by lot was 80%, with most of the works that did sell achieving their high estimate or beyond. Head of the Department, Brooke Lampley, declared it a “strong sale” in the post auction press conference.
Sale room at Christie’s, photo by ArtObserved
The major excitement of the sale came with the record-breaking price of $23 million for Kandinsky’s Studie für Improvisation 8 – the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by the artist. The painting is an early figurative example of the artist’s transition to abstraction.
Art handlers installing Monet’s Nymphéas (1905) , photo by ArtObserved
The highest grossing lot of the evening belonged to Monet’s Nymphéas, which sold for $43.7 million, solidly within its presale estimate of $30 – 50 million. This painting, along with Alfred Sisley’s L’alleé des peupliers á Moret au bord du Loing and Camille Pissarro’sPommiers et faneuses, Eragny, were auctioned off for the nonprofit Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York. Cumulatively, the paintings boosted nearly $51 million – well within the anticipated estimate of $35 – 57 million. Hackley’s headmaster stated that it was “truly a transformative moment for our school.”
Christie’s Saleroom, photo by ArtObserved
The third highest grossing lot was Joan Miró’s Peinture (Femme, Journal, Chein) at $13.7 million with a presale estimate of $12 – 18 million. Perhaps a factor in hammer price, the auction house stated that the financing fee was the third party’s responsibility.
The remaining top lots belonged to Picasso, with three paintings, and to Giacometti, with three bronze casts. Brancusi held the remaining spot for Une Muse, which sold to a private U.S. buyer for $12.4 million, within its estimated $10 – 15 million.
Pablo Picasso Tête de femme, Courtesy Christie’s
Although not the highest grossing lots, one further highlight was Georges Seurat’s Régates (Deux bateaux å voiles), which sold for a hammer price of $720,000 — well above its expected high of $350,000. The auctioneer deemed it a “popular lot” at the start of the bidding, and it quickly climbed to an unexpected hammer price. Another lot which surpassed its presale expectations was Henri Matisse’s La Tiaré, by selling for a hammer price of $700,000 – well beyond the high estimate of $350,000.
Georges Seurat, Régates (Deux bateaux à voiles), Courtesy Christie’s
Constantin Brancusi, Une Muse (1912), courtesy Christie’s
In spite of a hurricane, a blizzard and an election, Christie’s achieved good targets with some records; Brooke Lampley reconfirmed the collectors’ confidence in the market by telling an anecdote about having no power in her apartment during the hurricane while fielding inquiries for condition reports in the height of Hurricane Sandy.
Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale [Christie’s]