Doubling down on Wednesday night, Phillips and Christie’s went back to back on a marathon pair of auctions, Phillips with its 20th Century Sale and Christie’s with its Impressionist and Modern sale, that pushed the fall auction week to near completion with surprisingly potent results, including a new auction record for both Claude Monet and Wassily Kandinsky.
Phillips kicked the night off with a 37 lot affair, achieving an impressive record of sales, and a final tally of $111,239,500 that saw only 3 of the evening’s offered works failing to find a buyer. Graced by a series of well-curated works, the sale saw Phillips continuing to push for its own ground among the auction giants.
The sale opened with a strong Carmen Herrera work that topped estimate for a final of $970,000, followed shortly by a Wade Guyton ‘X’ that beat estimate to finish at $1,990,000, while a Michael Borremans in the early lots passed quickly, followed by a Vija Celmins from 1969 that topped its high estimate. This early flourish reached a head with the Gerhard Richter Dϋsenjäger, which just snuck inside its ambitious $25 million low estimate for a final of $27,130,000, followed by a lush red Clyfford Still that met estimate for a $13,690,000 final, and a second Richter that met estimates at $6,410,000.
Sales continued to be strong throughout the sale, as a David Hockney from 2000 met estimates for a $6,970,000 final, and a Roy Lichtenstein netted a $21,530,000 price tag, performing to expectation. The sale continued through the later lots and closed with only a few surprises.
Christie’s followed up on Phillips’s performance with a particularly packed auction of Impressionist works, including an impressive selection of Picasso works among its lots, hat ultimately brought a final tally of $246,344,500, with 9 of the evening’s 48 offered going unsold.
The sale looked promising from the opening lot, a Picasso sculpture that doubled estimate for a final of $2,407,500, followed by an early piece by the artist that performed similarly, finishing at $3,007,500, while a Fernand Léger continued the momentum, easily selling above estimate at $6,967,500. Several lots later, the evening’s star Claude Monet came to auction and quickly exceeded $60 million, ultimately seeing dogged bidding that pushed the work towards the artist’s auction record. After a few more bids, it went over, ultimately selling for a $81,447,500 figure that just topped the artist’s previous record. Shortly after, Pablo Picasso’s Dora Maar Buste de femme was another strong lot, reaching estimate and pushing up to a $22,647,500 final. A Joan Miró sculpture also performed well in the next lot, beating estimate and climbing steadily up to double estimate at $6,967,500, while a Paul Cézanne went well below estimate for the same price.
As the sale continued, a number of works also aimed for new records, but few could achieve the same impressive figures as the Monet, with the exception of the Wassily Kandinsky from 1935, Rigide et Courbé, which pushed just beyond the artist’s previous auction record for a final of $23,319,500. Another Picasso shortly after was a strong offering, reaching a final of $18,391,500.
The sales seemed to run short of energy following these lots, as works began dropping with little interest, among them a second Picasso portrait of Dora Maar, and a rare August Stringberg, buttressed by sporadic bidding on a Pierre Bonnard that pushed the work to $3,607,500 over a $2.8mil high. The sale closed on a sturdy series of lots that moved quickly with only a few passes.
The New York auction week concludes tomorrow night at Sotheby’s