With the closing of this week’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, evidence of a strong art market is not hard to find. Sotheby’s held a slight edge over its recently successful rival, managing an auction total of $165.9 million, with only 13 of the 71 pieces going unsold. Two pieces passed the ten million dollar mark, and 29 were sold for more than one-million dollars. The auction also set auction records for Camille Claudel and Františk Kupka. In contrast, Christie’s achieved a result of $100.4 million over the course of its 44 lot sale. The result lies in between the total pre-sale estimate for the auction house of $82.8 to $118.8 million. Only seven works remained unsold, and two lots were sold for over ten million dollars.
The auction saw a large number of major resales, procurring high profits for their sellers.. Sotheby’s sold Claude Monet’s Le Palais Contarini (1908) for $30,828,700 to an anonymous telephone bidder, previously purchased by the Nahmad family for $4.2 million in 1996 at Christie’s New York. The Nahmad family also made waves with their consignment of Amedeo Modigliani’s Paul Guillaume (1916), sold by Christie’s to an anonymous buyer for $10,627,198. The sale marks the fourth time piece has been auction in the past 17 years. Another notable resale was Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise dans un fauteuil (1960) by Christie’s. Following a bidding war, the piece was sold for $9,574,174 to New York-based dealer William Acquavella via the telephone. Only seven years ago, Sotheby’s sold the work for $6,736,000 in New York, and its sale placed it among the four Picasso pieces to make the list of Christie’s highest priced sales on Tuesday evening.
Amedeo Modigliani Paul Guillaume (, via Christie’s
Of particular note, the cover lots for both auction houses were consigned by the Nahmad family, whose stockpile of classic works has placed them as a ongoing contributor to the health of the market. Upon exiting Sotheby’s,Ezra Nahmad stated regarding the sale of the cover lot: Claude Monets’s Le Palais Contarini (1908) that “I regret letting it go.” David Nahmad added, “I regret everything I let go. Paintings like this will never be available again and you’ll need to stick to junk art.”
The Christie’s cover lot, Wassily Kandinsky’s Studie zu Improvisation 3 (1909), sold to Zurich dealer Beda Jedlicka of J&P Fine Art for $21,157,438. The painting fell short of its top estimate of $24.19 million, which would have reset the artist’s current auction record.
Other highlights from the Sotheby’s auction include Piet Mondrian’s ‘Composition in Red, Yellow and Blue’ (1927), which sold for $14,514,119 after an intense bidding war of at least four telephone bidders. and Rene Magritte’s iconic L’Idee’ sold for $7,146,244, well above its presale top estimate of $3,867,000. As previously mentioned, Camille Claudel’s La Valse, Premier Version, a 37 ¼ inch bronze cast from 1893, sold for a record $8,023,371, quickly exceeding its top estimate of $3,093,600. The result is significantly higher than the previous artist record, set at Sotheby’s New York in May when Caludel’s ‘La Valse, Deuxième Version’ sold for $1.87 million.
Focus on the secondhand market will now move to the Contemporary and Post-War sales scheduled for next week, the last major auctions before the summer.
Sotheby’s Nabs $165-Million, Led By Major $30-Million Monet [Blouin Art Info]
Nahmad Family’s Monet Brings $30.8 Million at Sotheby’s in London [New York Times]
Christie’s London Auction Brings Modest Art and Modest Sales [New York Times]
Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art Realizes $100.4 Million [Art Daily]
Monet Tops $165 Million Sale, Modern Art Confidence Rises [Bloomberg]