Last night, Christie’s held their annual fall Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, on the tail of their “A Dialogue through Art: Works From the Jan Krugier Collection.” The sale realized a total of $144 million, with 76% sold by lot and 65% of the works sold by value. According to Christie’s Head of Department, Brooke Lampley, there was a “great depth of bidding,” with a strong focus on the Asian market. Christie’s attributed this to their current and continued reach in Chinese markets, particularly in Hong Kong. There was competitive interest displayed in mid market pricing – for works of art priced at $5 million and below.
Leading the sale was Alberto Giacometti’s Diego en chemise ecossaise, which achieved $32 million against it’s projected $30 – 50 million. This oil painting of the artist’s brother, set a world record at auction for the artist in this medium. The artist’s previous record for a painting was for $14 million. Deputy Chairman and Acting Head of Department, Andreas Rumbler, noted that this pre-sale estimate was absolutely justified, due to the fact that it belonged to the “masterpiece market” where exceptional pieces of art are routinely priced between $25 – 35 million.
Henry Moore’s Woman Knitting set a world record for the artist’s works on paper, as it boosted $1.3 million – well above it’s expected $500,000 – 700,000. Small sculptures offered by the artist, Family Group and Reclining Figure, both sold above their estimate, too.
Among the top lots and most compelling sales of the evening was Vincent Van Gogh’s small drawing and letter to his brother, La maison de Vincent á Arles. It drew active bidding on the phones, eventually selling for $5.4 million to a private Asian buyer – well above it’s high estimate of $3.5 million. As the price climbed in the salesroom, auctioneer Andreas Rumbler wittily quipped, “I hope they know how small it is.”
Three artworks by Claude Monet, L’lle aux Orties, Entrée de Giverny en hiver, soleil couchant, and La maison du Douanier, effet rose, all placed within the top ten lots of the evening. The three pieces sold with their expected range. L’lle aux Orties proved to be an “exciting sale” being that it sold for 8 times more than last time it appeared on the market, according to Rumbler. Christie’s noted that these sales reenforced the strength of the Impressionist market.
Two of the antcipated top sales – Picasso’s Le peintre et son modéle dans un paysage and Amedeo Modigliani’s Monsieur Baranowski, both estimated at $25 – 35 million, failed to sell. When questioned about the Picasso’s inability to find a buyer, Rumbler retorted that the estimate was based upon previous Picasso sales from similar works, and that the collector refused to sell it for less, noting that he would be happy to have it back on his walls. In regards to the Modigliani, Christie’s stated that there was plenty of pre-sale interest, and that they anticipated post-sale inquiries. It is quite possible that the the gender of the subject played a factor in disinterest from collectors in the painting, as it was not a quintessential Modigliani portrait of a beautiful female.
Tomorrow night, Sotheby’s will host their Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, and Art Observed will be on hand, covering the sales live on our Twitter and Instagram accounts.
– A. Roemer
Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale [Christie’s]