As the sales and events surrounding Art Basel begin to wind down this weekend, many collectors will turn their attention to London, where two weeks of auctions will mark the final major sale of the first half of 2016. Spread across five auctions, the sales seem notably subdued in comparison with last month’s attempts to shoot the moon in New York, perhaps in part due to concerns about Britain leaving the EU blunting collectors’ willingness to invest in the pound, yet strong works and seemingly hearty interest may manage to keep the them interesting.
The sales begin on Tuesday, June 21st, with a brisk 27-lot outing of Impressionist and Modern works by Sotheby’s. The sale hints at a shortage of quality works currently available for purchase, with a small catalog and few trophy works, yet still manages to bring forward a few few impressive pieces. Among them is Picasso’s breathtaking Femme Assise, all cubist flourish and commanding early estimates at upwards of £30 million. Also of note is an Amedeo Modigliani portrait of lover Jeanne Hebuterne, expected to fetch a similarly strong £28 million.
Christie’s will enter the fray the following evening with its own offering of Impressionist and Modern masterworks, a 36-lot affair that is hinting at a £38.3 million final estimate that pales in comparison to the estimates of similar sales in past years. This sale also boasts a strong Modigliani of its own, Madame Hanka Zborowska (1917), which is commanding a sale estimate of £5,000,000 – £7,000,000, joined at the top of the sale by a subdued Claude Monet cityscape, priced at £4,500,000 – £6,500,000, and a dual Picasso portrait for a final of £2,800,000 – £4,800,000.
Following a weekend break, sales continue the following week, as Phillips will offer its 20th Century and Contemporary Evening sale in competition with the larger auction houses. The 31-lot sale is notably mellow in its offerings, topped by a set of Rudolf Stingel pieces priced in the range of £1 million to £1.5 million, as well as a composition by Domenico Gnoli in the same range. An underpriced Adrian Ghenie work may also push upwards from a low £350,000 initial estimate, as the artist continues a strong market push in recent months.
The following evening sees Sotheby’s trying its hand at the Contemporary market, bringing a 47-lot sale valued at only £35.5 million. It’s led by a striking, interwoven fabric composition by Sigmar Polke, priced at £3,500,000 — £4,500,000, while a vivid Keith Haring from 1989 will command a price range of £2,000,000 — £3,000,000. A striking Andy Warhol Four Marilyns piece from his Reversal Series, is also up for sale at £1,800,000 — £2,500,000.
Sales conclude on June 29th with a sale at Christie’s, where another Contemporary sale will offer the last market test before the summer recess. The 40-lot sale, showing an initial estimate of £40.3 million, also sees several strong works holding down an otherwise subdued event. A brooding Gerhard Richter piece from his Abstraktes Bild series is anticipating upwards of £10 million, while an Andy Warhol Dollar Bill piece follows behind with an estimate of £4,000,000 – £6,000,000. An Yves Klein sponge work also tops the sale with a £2,500,000 – £3,500,000 estimate.
— D. Creahan
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Sale [Sotheby’s]
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Sale [Christie’s]
Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Sale [Phillips]
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Sale [Sotheby’s]
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Sale [Christie’s]