AO Auction Recap – New York: Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, November 4th, 2014

November 5th, 2014

Alberto Giacometti, Chariot (1951-52), via Art Observed
Alberto Giacometti, Chariot (1951-52), via Art Observed

Sotheby’s Evening Sale for Impressionist and Modern Art concluded last night, capping a successful if occasionally unpredictable auction that achieved $422.1 million in sales, the highest record of sale for the auction house in its history.

The sale was led by a number of blockbuster sales, led as anticipated by Alberto Giacometti’s landmark sculpture Chariot.  The 1951 sculpture jumped off to an astounding $80 million initial bid, and slowly pushed upwards, finally hammering at the final price of $100,965,00 (nearly matching the artist’s $104 million auction record).  While fireworks had been assured for the work, only a single telephone bid claimed the piece, confusing attendees and leaving many wondering who would guarantee such a high price unopposed.

Amedeo Modigliani, Tête (1911-12), via Art Observed
Amedeo Modigliani, Tête (1911-12), via Art Observed

Pablo Picasso, Homme Assis (1969), via Art Observed
Pablo Picasso, Homme Assis (1969), via Art Observed

The sale was also led by Amedeo Modigliani’s Tête, a landmark, elongated sculpture from the artist that set a new auction record with the final sale price of $70.7 million.  The work saw fierce competition, pushing it upwards from its $38 million initial bid to reach the artist record.  The two sales were part of a larger trend towards sculpture throughout the show.  The format fared extremely well last night, beyond the momentous prices paid for the aforementioned works.  12 works in all ultimately achieved nearly half of the value of the auction ($191 million).

Vincent Van Gogh, Nature Morte, Vase Aux Marguerites et Coquelicots (1890), via Sotheby's
Vincent Van Gogh, Nature Morte, Vase Aux Marguerites et Coquelicots (1890), via Sotheby’s

Also of particular note was the Van Gogh still life, sold from the collection of the Albright-Knox in Buffalo.  The piece, estimated to sell between $30 and $50 million, saw healthy bidding before finally achieving $61.8 million from a Chinese bidder.  Claude Monet’s work also fared particularly well, accounting for $61.9 million of the sale’s record-setting performance, and setting 4 works within the top 10 prices paid last evening.  Leading the charge was Alice Hoschedé in the Garden, a vivid work which earned a final sale price of $33.7 million, going to an American phone bidder.  A late Pablo PicassoHomme Assis, also led the evening, selling to Jose Mugrabi for the final price of $11 million, just below its high estimate.

Claude Monet, Alice Hoschedé Au Jardin (1881), via Sotheby's
Claude Monet, Alice Hoschedé Au Jardin (1881), via Sotheby’s

However, despite the immense sales figures last night, only 58 of 73 lots finally found a buyer, an interesting note that places its sales percentage at 79.4% by lot, but 95.2% by value, and may signal a new strategy for the auction house in putting together its upcoming sales.  Works by Giorgio de Chirico and Balthus, among others, failed to find buyers.

The Impressionist and Modern Sales will conclude tonight at Christie’s.

— D. Creahan

Read more:
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale Results [Sotheby’s]
Sotheby’s Auction Led by $101 Million Sale of Giacometti’s ‘Chariot’ [WSJ]
Sotheby’s Evening Sale — The Chariot of Fire [Art Info]
Giacometti’s Chariot Leads Sotheby’s $422 Million Sale [Bloomberg]
Thanks to Giacometti, Sotheby’s Hits Its Highest Total Ever at Fall Opening [NYT]