Sotheby’s logged its entry in the Impressionist and Modern Evening sales last evening, with a healthy, brisk sale that reached a final tally of £103,280,000, beating initial estimates with only three works unsold. Despite a small selection of lots, the evening’s offerings saw healthy competition, and several top lots that commanded hefty final prices, even if prices tapered off quickly after several marquee works.
The sale kicked off with a swirling blue Marc Chagall piece, which surged out of the gate to beat estimate and sell for a final of £593,000, well above the lot’s initial estimates. A striking Degas sculpture followed, bringing a final price of £629,000, while an early Giacometti, Portrait de Diego, saw strong bidding to push the work past the £1 million mark to a final of £1,325,000, doubling estimate. An Edvard Munch lithograph of his iconic work The Scream stalled in the next lot, then suddenly rocketed past estimate, almost doubling its pre-sale price for £1,805,000.
One lot later, Picasso’s impressive cubist work Femme Assise reached the block, starting at £20 million and climbing quickly. It would ultimately bring a final price of £43,269,000. A Francis Picabia sold within estimate in the following lot, and a Renoir also sold just over estimate immediately after for a final of £1,265,000, followed by a Gauguin still life at £3,397,000. This brought up the evening’s striking Modigliani portrait, which saw considered, yet strong bids that pushed the work upwards from its £25 million starting point to a final of £38,509,000. A Rodin work, priced near the top of the sale, was not so lucky, going unsold.
The sale continued in a somewhat subdued manner in the following lots, as a Fernand Léger met estimate for a £1,421,000 final, and a Rene Magritte went well below estimate for £701,000. Several lots passed shortly before the sale’s final moments, ultimately casting a slight pall on the sale’s initially strong outing.
The sales will continue tomorrow evening at Christie’s.
— D. Creahan
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sotheby's]