Sotheby’s Modern Art Auction in London Yesterday Produce Uneven Results

February 6th, 2013

Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise Près D’Une Fenêtre, via Sotheby's
Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise Près D’Une Fenêtre, via Sotheby’s

Last night, Sotheby’s London hosted the first of the spring’s Modern Art auctions, with a number of works quickly soaring to high prices while others struggled to meet their estimates, most notably the centerpiece of the auction, Pablo Picasso’s “Femme Assise Près d’une Fenêtre.”

Claude Monet, Nymphéas Avec Reflets De Hautes Herbes, via Sotheby's
Claude Monet, Nymphéas Avec Reflets De Hautes Herbes, via Sotheby’s

Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his mistress, done during a particularly popular year in the artist’s career for collectors, managed to just squeak into the estimated price range of £25-35 million, going to a Chinese bidder for £28.4 million (final sale price of £45 million) with little contest.

Joan Miró, Femme Rêvant De L'évasion, via Sotheby's
Joan Miró, Femme Rêvant De L’évasion, via Sotheby’s

Several other works managed to command impressive sale prices; three works on paper by Egon Schiele, offered by the Leopold Museum in Vienna, sold for the combined total of £14 million, and Claude Monet’s masterpiece Nymphéas avec reflets de hautes herbes sold for £9,001,250.  Several works by Degas also found themselves at the center of competitive bidding, particularly Après la Bain, which sold to a European bidder for £7.7 million, doubling its original estimate.

Egon Schiele, Liebspaar, via Sotheby's
Egon Schiele, Liebspaar, via Sotheby’s

Other works did not fare so well in the auction, however; particularly  works by Fernand Leger and and Victor Brauner, which struggled to achieve their estimated prices, as well as a work by Max Beckman, which went unsold.

Edgar Degas, Après La Bain (Femme S'Essuyant), via Sotheby's
Edgar Degas, Après La Bain (Femme S’Essuyant), via Sotheby’s

Underlining the current unpredictability of the global art economy, Sotheby’s Evening Modern Art Sale may signal an interesting upcoming week for the secondary market.

Fernand Leger, Nature Morte, via Sotheby's
Fernand Leger, Nature Morte, via Sotheby’s

—D. Creahan

Suggested Links
New York Times Auction Coverage
Wall Street Journal Coverage