The first tests of the Impressionist and Modern market for 2018 are now in the books, as Sotheby’s capped a brief but action-packed sale this evening in London, ultimately achieving a final of £118,932,000 despite a handful of unsold works. There was little room for error in the 21-lot sale, which seemed primarily organized around several marquee works and a selection of works that garnered very little interest.
The sale started off with eager bids for a Marc Chagall piece, which climbed quickly beyond estimate to reach a final of £3,650,900 final, while a Léger achieved a steady £2,634,800 final in the next lot. An early pair of highlights also included a golden chandelier built by Alberto Giacometti, which sold above estimate (final: £7,602,400) after gentle coaxing by Helena Newman for, as well as a major Picasso portrait of Marie-Therese. The piece started at £32 million, thanks to an irrevocable bid, and moved up steadily, getting an extra boost from a late entry into the fray that ultimately pushed the work to a final of £49,827,000.
A series of passes cast a pall over the proceedings following this sale, but the auction house seemed to recover with lot 11, where an André Derain seascape that saw strong bids to reach a final of £10,876,500. The sale seemed to lock into something of a groove following this lot, as the evening’s rare Boccioni futurist composition beat estimate to a final of £9,070,100. Another Picasso, Le Matador, also rounded off the top end of the evening’s offerings, bringing a final of £16,521,500.
In the final ten lots, the energy seemed to quickly taper off, ultimately leaving several more works unsold, but maintaining a brisk clip that seemed to satisfy those in attendance. The sales conclusion sets the stage for another round of auctions next week as the Contemporary market tries its hand.
— D. Creahan
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sales Site]