With the final bids placed and the hammer falling on the last lot of the evening, Christie’s has closed the book on an outstanding outing, concluding the star evening sale of its spring season, the sale of the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection. A jewel of modern art collection, the works from the family’s holdings were wide and deep enough to fill several evening sales in Christie’s calendar this week, with this 19th and 20th Century Sale serving as the main event. It did not disappoint.
Marking the first in a long string of auctions in New York over the past week, the Christie’s sale this evening was a massively successful affair, with all lots selling through to reach an impressive final of $648,383,594, a testament to the exceptional quality of the collection.
The first lot of the evening, a Picasso still-life saw upwards of 12 bidders pushing the work to a final of $3,972,500, before an impressive $31,812,500 final was notched in just the second lot for a Juan Gris composition, followed by a Eugène Delacroix canvas that hammered promptly within estimate to a new auction record at $$9,875,000. A Corot work in the next lot also performed well, reaching estimate to hammer $8 million, while a Paul Gauguin piece notched one of the evening’s first major figures with a final of $35,187,500.
Another major sale came shortly after, as an Henri Matisse canvas, a prize of the Rockefeller Collection, blew out of the gate to sell at a final of $80,750,000. Another major auction record fell just a few minutes later, as a Claude Monet, Nymphéas en fleur, which saw aggressive battling at the $60 million mark that ultimately pushed the work upwards past $70 million, where it hammered to bring a final price of $84,687,500. A second Monet also performed well, reaching a final of $15,837,500 in the following lot. A second Gauguin also performed well, beating estimate for a final of $19,437,500.
With such impressive fireworks, it was easy to forget that the sale had yet to even reach its halfway point, especially with a Pablo Picasso in the 15th lot that hit a remarkable $100 million in only a few bids, ultimately achieving a sterling $115,062,500 final price for the painting. Another Monet also performed particularly well, reaching a strong final of $32,937,500.
The energy seemed to settle down at this point, as many began to leave the room following the top sales, ultimately closing around a Joan Miró mural that beat estimate to a final of $20,000,000.
The sales continue tomorrow with a smaller sale of works from the family’s holdings in American art.
— D. Creahan
Christie’s Rockefeller Family Sale [Auction Page]