With a few brief wobbles, the first evening of two weeks of auctions in the British capital has concluded, bringing solid results and a final of £114,103,000 for Christie’s auction house this evening. The sale saw most of its premiere works moving quickly over the course of the evening, with 11 works going unsold, including one of the sale’s lead lots, a Kees van Dongen portrait.
The sale got off to a rousing start, as a Picasso canvas sold at triple estimate for £2,048,750. It was followed shortly after by a Léger work that bested its estimate to sell at £1,928,750. It was followed by another strong Picasso several lots later, which also doubled estimate to a final of £5,521,250, while another work by the Spanish painter also beat estimate for £6,758,750. The sale’s marquee work, a Pablo Picasso from the late 1960’s, Mousquetaire et nu assis, which sold quickly after reaching estimate, bringing a final price of £13,733,750. It was ultimately Picasso’s sale throughout the evening, as the artist’s works continued to command major real estate on the high ends of the results book.
The sale continued quite steadily through course of the evening’s lots, as an Edgar Degas met estimate to sell for a final of £8,993,750, and a Claude Monet picture, Vétheuil, reached a final of £7,546,250, within estimate. A major stumble came shortly after, as the van Dongen struggled to find a buyer at lot 34, ultimately going unsold after static attempts by Jussi Pylkkanen to get the bids moving. The failed sale seemed to take some of the wind out of the room, ultimately bringing a a string of works that rarely pushed beyond estimate. A Kandinsky landscape was one highlight, topping estimate for a final of £6,758,750, and bringing up a series of works that caused a progression slide to the finish line, leaving a handful of passed works in its wake.
The sales continue tomorrow night at Sotheby’s, where the auction house will try its own hand at the Impressionist and Modern market.
— D. Creahan
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Auction Site]