Amedeo Modigliani, Nu Couché (Sur le Côté Gauche) (1917), via Sotheby’s
With the weather gradually warming, and thoughts turning to the summer months in New York, the art world will once again look to the Big Apple for a last major auction of the spring season. With a packed week boasting a string of sales spread over 10 days, the week’s offerings will make for a pointed cap to the preceding week at Roosevelt Island, where Frieze New York will has drawn to a close. With a number of impressive highlights, chief among them the collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller at Christie’s, the spring sales in New York should offer a few impressive exclamation points to add to an already packed month of market offerings.
Paul Gauguin, La Vague (1888), via Christie’s
Perhaps the most noteworthy story of the upcoming days is the sale of the Rockefeller collection of art, furniture, and other objects, arguably one of the most valued collections in modern history. The banker and philanthropist’s massive collection has been parceled out over a series of sales at Christie’s in the coming days, with particular focus falling on a pair of evening sales on May 8th and 9th. The pair of marquee sales includes a 19th and 20th Century Sale packed with magnificent pieces, including Juan Gris’s iconic La table de musicien, painted in 1914, and Gauguin‘s La Vague, both of which are anticipated to top the $20 million mark easily. With more immediately recognizable pieces from Henri Matisse, Monet and others, one can anticipate at least a few high-profile records to potentially fall that night.
The next evening, the Rockefellers’ more modern American holdings get their turn on the block, capping a smaller but equally interesting sale that includes a Willem de Kooning work from the early 1980’s that boasts an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. This estimate is shared by a subdued canvas by Edward Hopper, Cape Ann Granite (1928), which adds a more nuanced, early 20th Century note to the evening’s proceedings.
Alberto Giacometti, Le Chat (1955), via Sotheby’s
The second week of sales begins May 14th at Sotheby’s, kicking off the week with its Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale in style. The sale has made particular waves in the past several days following the auction house’s announcement of an astronomical $150 million pre-sale estimate for Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché (Sur le Côté Gauche), a 1917 painting by the master modernist that is already being trumpeted as the new auction record holder for his work, based on the estimated price and fees alone. The 46-lot sale will also feature a landmark painting by Pablo Picasso, Le Repos, which will look to continue the artist’s impressive auction tallies of late, and which carries an estimate of $25,000,000 — $35,000,000. A slender Giacometti sculpture, Le Chat, also leads the sale, with an estimate of $20,000,000 — $30,000,000.
The following evening, Christie’s will take its turn at the Impressionist and Modern market, bringing forward a strong offering spread over a series of 40 works. The sale boasts a range of impressive pieces for collectors to battle over, including Pablo Picasso’s Le Marin, which carries an estimate upwards of $20 million, as well as an impressive Vincent Van Gogh canvas expected to sell for between $35,000,000 – $55,000,000. Formerly residing in the collection of Elizabeth Taylor, the work should prove to be one of the trophy lots of the evening’s run.
Looking to pick the momentum back up after a night off, Sotheby’s will hold an impressively appointed sale of works for its Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale on May 16th. Leading the 45-lot sale is a Jackson Pollock drip painting from 1949, which may top the artist’s prior auction record with its pre-sale estimate $30,000,000 — $40,000,000. Another auction record is expected for David Hockney’s Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica, a powerfully-appointed landscape that boasts a pre-sale estimate of $20,000,000 — $30,000,000, a figure that already places the work over his prior auction record. It’s joined by a striking Kerry James Marshall, Past Times, which carries an estimate of $8,000,000 — $12,000,000.
On May 17th, sales draw to a close with a pair of auctions, kicking off at 5pm with the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips. The 38-lot sale sees a continuation of the auction house’s aggressive push towards a stronger market share, with increasingly competitive works looking to make waves in a week of already landmark pieces. At the top of the sale is an energetic canvas by artist Sigmar Polke, a swirling canvas boasting an estimate of $12,000,000 – $18,000,000, as well as a Robert Motherwell canvas from 1971 that carries the same price.
The sales for the week conclude just a few hours later at Christie’s, where the auction house’s Post-War and Contemporary Sale brings together a 65-lot offering that spans a broad range of works from the past 60 years. Leading the sale is a powerful, abstracted Francis Bacon piece from 1977, a work which will go to auction for the first time, and which carries an impressive estimate of at least $30 million. The sale also includes Jeff Koons’s iconic Play-Dough sculpture, which is also anticipated to top $20 million for the evening. All told, the evening’s sales should offer a fitting exclamation point on the week, one which will conclude a week of sales that should serve as a broad-spanning test of market strength.
The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller: 19th and 20th Century Art, Evening Sale [Christie's]
The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller: Art of the Americas, Evening Sale [Christie's]
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sotheby's]
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Christie's]
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Sotheby's]
Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale [Phillips]
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Christie's]