With the hottest months of the year settling in across the US and Europe, the secondary market will get one last chance to catch some heat of its own. Over the course of the next two weeks, the major auction houses will present a final look at the strength of the secondary market before the summer recess, capping off what has been something of a rebound after a few sluggish years of growth from 2017 to late last year. With two weeks of sales lined up in London this month, interested parties should get a look at just how the auction houses will look to keep that momentum going.
Sales will begin on Tuesday, June 18th, with a brisk 34-lot offering at Christie’s, an opening salvo in the Impressionist and Modern category that sparks off two weeks of sales, and carries a few impressive highlights and opportunities for collectors. Topping the sale is a sparse Fernand Léger work, Femme dans un fauteuil, which carries an estimate upwards of £20 million, and which may give the artist’s auction record a run for its money under the right conditions. It’s followed by Homme et femme nus, a visceral and surreal Picasso work estimated to sell for between £10,000,000 and £15,000,000. Also leading the sale is a colorful Matisse portrait, boasting an estimate of £5,000,000 to £8,000,000.
The following evening, Sotheby’s takes its turn on the Impressionist and Modern category, kicking off a 25-lot sale that also carries a handful of impressive highlights. What’s more, this will be the first major evening sale for Sotheby’s since the auction house announced its acquisition by mogul Patrick Drahi, a move that has taken the company private and changed its prospects for the coming months. It remains to be seen, however, just how this purchase will bode for the auction house’s sales. This first look should hold some answers as regards buyer confidence, as a Claude Monet Water Lillies piece leads off with a pre-sale estimate of £25 million to £35 million, a strong entry that should test the recent strength of the artist’s market since resetting his auction record just a few weeks ago. Also topping the sale is a stirring Amedeo Modigliani portrait, Jeune Homme Assis, Les Mains Croisées Sur Les Genoux which has been held in a private collection for nearly 100 years. A vivd yellow Joan Miró also rounds out the top end of the lots, with an estimate of £10,000,000 to £15,000,000.
The following week, the sales shift into the Post-War and Contemporary categories, with major evening sales scheduled at the three main auction houses. The offerings begin at Christie’s on June 25th, where a 35-lot sales carries a few highlights, but seems more focused around a steady, well-organized sale devoid of the same sort of fireworks-inspiring selections as the NY sale earlier this season. A Jean-Michel Basquiat heads off the sale with a £7,500,000 to £11,000,000 estimated price, while a Jean Dubuffet piece is estimated at the same range, as is a subdued Francis Bacon piece, Man at a Washbasin.
The following evening, Sotheby’s will take its crack at the Contemporary market, launching a 43-lot outing that should look to generate some impressive attention when the smoke clears. Leading the sale is a powerful Francis Bacon portrait, estimated at £15,000,000 to £20,000,000, while a striking and relatively rare Albert Oehlen portrait follows behind, carrying a pre-sale estimate of £4,000,000 to £6,000,000. A Jenny Saville portrait rounds out the top of the auction and its figuration-heavy selections, boasting a presale estimate of £3,000,000 to £5,000,000 that could well make a run at the artist’s recently reset auction record under the right circumstances.
The weeks’s sales reach their conclusion the next night, June 27th, with Phillips’s lone evening auction of the following weeks. The 20th Century and Contemporary Sale has a series of strong works, with a prime, kinetic Roy Lichtenstein carrying a nice £4,000,000 to £6,000,000 estimate, while an untitled Jean-Michel Basquiat piece carries an estimated sales range of £3,000,000 t0 £5,000,000.
With few works hinting at major resets of auction records, one may anticipate a less energetic week of sales than in weeks prior, but insights into the performances in New York and London, taken together, should make for an insightful picture on just how strong the market looks leading into the fall.
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Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]
Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]