The first batch of Summer auctions are in the books in London tonight, as Sotheby’s capped off its Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale with results that seemed to emphasize a steadied ship following the announcement of the auction house’s sale to Patrick Drahi earlier this week. The auction house, capitalizing on a strong offering of works, moved methodically through the evening, selling 23 of the 25 works on offer for a final tally of £98,875,924.
The sale got off to a modest start, with a Marc Chagall selling at estimate for £2,295,000, while a Magritte work easily doubled estimate to finish at £3,015,000, as well as an Henri Matisse that sold at estimate for £4,298,400. This brought up the first of the evening’s major lots, Amedeo Modigliani’s Jeune Homme Assis. The work saw three bidders fight over the piece, pushing it into the estimate range where it would sell soon after for a final price of £18,422,000. Just one lot later, a Claude Monet Water Lillies piece would stumble but still manage to sell below estimate for a final price of £23,731,624. The sale continued with its steady, deliberate movements, selling another Monet below estimate at £3,135,000 and a Picasso just above estimate for a final price of £7,601,500. A Joan Miró was another major sale, reaching estimate on enthused bids to sell for £12,000,000, while another Magritte topped estimate for a final of £4,184,500.
The brief sale drew to a close shortly after these offerings, underscoring what could prove a successful future strategy of shorter, well-appointed evening sales for the bustling months around Venice and the spring fairs for the auction houses, a point that was signaled yesterday by some who named a certain degree of sluggishness of buyers a potential symptom of fair fatigue. Even so, the auction houses will have one more change to move their best works next week during the Contemporary Auctions. As always, Art Observed will be on hand.
– D. Creahan
Sotheby’s Impressionst and Modern Evening Sale [Sotheby's]