AO Auction Recap – New York: Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale, November 5th, 2014

November 6th, 2014

Edouard Manet, Le Printemps (1881), via Art Observed

Christie’s concluded its sale of Impressionist and Modernist works last evening, capping a short but successful 39 lot sale that only saw four works fail to find a buyer, and which achieved a final tally $165,635,000.

The auction house has gone on record in the past weeks with a collector-focused strategy that appears to be paying in dividends.  Strong interest seemed present for nearly every work through the first half of the evening’s sales, with most works beating their initial estimates, and while the sale failed to match Sotheby’s record-setting event the evening prior, it made up for record-setting totals with an impressive consistency in sales prices.

Fernand Léger, Les constructeurs avec arbre (1949), via Christies

Perhaps most tellingly, the sale started off with an impressive series of sales, with five of the first six lots doubling their initial estimates, including a momentous performance for Gino Severini’s Etude pour Autoportrait au canotier, which nearly quadrupled its high estimate to bring in a final sale price of $4,757,000, a world record for the artist’s works on paper.  The auction also saw an Alberto Giacometti bust double its estimate for the final price of $9,909,000, as well as an early Joan Miró landscape, which achieved a final price of $8,677,000

Gino Severini, Etude pour Autoportrait au canotier (1913), via Christie’s

But nothing could top the fierce bidding for Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps, a world-class piece and the last of the artist’s salon paintings remaining in private hands.  Bidding started with an initial $18 million bid, and rose quickly thanks fierce competition between seven different bidders, surging past the artist’s previous $33 million record and finally settling at the final price of $65,125,000, nearly double his previous sales record, to much applause.

Joan Miró, Tuilerie à Mont-roig (1918), via Christie’s

Strong results continued throughout the evening, with one of the few lackluster sales coming from Steve Wynn’s glowing Fernand Leger canvas, Les constructeurs avec arbre, which started off at $15 million and barely moved, brining in a final sales price of $17,525,000.  It was followed with the by a Pablo Picasso canvas that failed to reach its $4 million low estimate and went unsold.  An early Magritte failed to find a buyer shortly after.

Joan Miro, Peinture (1953), via Art Observed

With the Impressionist and Modern sales now in the books, attention will turn towards the Contemporary market, where a series of New York sales next week will cap the fall auction season.

— D. Creahan

Read more:
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Christie's]
Manet canvas sets record at Christie’s $166-million sale of Impressionist art [Reuters]
A Manet Portrait Fuels High Prices on a Competitive Night for Christie’s [NYT]