Last night, Christie’s held their Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale with sales totaling $158 million – the strongest since 2006 and a 35% increase over last spring’s auction. Of the 47 lots offered, 40 lots sold, a 94% sell through rate and a 90% sold by value. According to Brooke Lampley, the Head of the Department, the sale reflected high quality across all price points, and resembled last May’s results, but with a stronger sell through rate.
The top lot of the evening belonged to Chaim Soutine’s Le petit pâtissier, which sold for $18 million – within it’s expected $16 – 22 million. This set a new world record for the artist at auction, the previous record was for $17 million at Sotheby’s in 2007. It was purchased by an anonymous buyer.
The second highest grossing lot was Marc Chagall’s Les trois acrobats, which soared to $13 million, well above it’s high estimate of $9 million. There was an active bidding war for this painting both in the room and on the phone, eventually it sold to an anonymous phone bidder.
The third highest price tag went to Egon Schiele’s Selbstbildnis mit Modell (Fragment), which was somewhat of a dark horse in this sale. This painting had been consigned by New York’s Neue Gallery, in hopes of raising funds to add to their permanent collection. It achieved over $11 million against it’s high estimate of $7 million, and also induced rather competitive bidding both in the salesroom and on the phones. It sold to a private European collector.
Picasso dominated three of the remaining top lots, leading with his Mandoline et portée de musique, from 1923, which boosted $9 million – just over it’s projected low of $8 million. The other two paintings that were in it’s rank were Femme assise en costume rouge sur fond bleu for $8 million and Homme et Femme for $6 million – both were within the midpoints of their projected sales.
Also among the top lots, Modigliani’s La Juive sold for nearly $7 million – double and then some of it’s projected high of $3 million. Brooke Lampley declared it’s bidding and it’s final price as “sensational.”
There were two Andre Derain’s that failed to sell. His Madame Matisse au kimono, which was hoped to bring in between $15 – 20 million, was passed on at it’s starting bid of $13 million. Additionally, his painting Voiliers á Collioure was withdrawn from the sale – it was estimated at $5 – 7 million. Lampley stated in the press conference that ” interest had been building towards the sale, but changed last minute,” and that Christie’s expected after sale interest.
Overall, the sale drew diverse geographical interest with bidders from over 30 countries. Lampley stated that it reflected an “intelligent and educated market,” and that collectors were still “drawn to rare early work.” Christie’s auctioneer, Andreas Rumbler, noted that there were “happy vendors from whom they expect future business.”
– A. Roemer
Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale Results [Christie’s]