Marking their entries of the week’s packed calendar of Impressionist and Modern Evening Sales, the Impressionist and Modern Sales have concluded in New York, rounding out the first half of a bustling week of sales that also caps off the second half of the year’s major secondary market sales.
Monday night, Christie’s capped off a steady, stable 58-lot offering yesterday evening, opening up the week’s proceedings on a strong, consistent note. The sale managed to meet estimate for the evening, reaching a finally tally of $191.9 million, including a world record for Italian Umberto Boccioni, and only 6 lots going unsold.
Led by a sale from the collection of the Alsdorf family, the sale jumped out of the gate. A Pablo Picasso work sold at estimate for a final of $1,215,000 to open the evening, followed close behind by an Yves Tanguy work that sold quickly but under estimate for a final of $1.75 million. The sale managed to gain momentum in the coming lots, however, as René Magritte’s La Sabbat canvas saw enough interest to push it up to its $9,922,500 final price (within estimate). Another Picasso kept momentum flowing, selling at estimate for the final of $9,355,000. The sale kept this pace with a pair of Camille Pissarro’s, which sold for strong prices at $10,263,000 and $6,517,00 respectively.
These early highlights brought the sale into the meat of the action, where another Magritte, also from the Alsdorf collection, torched its estimate and moved upwards, selling to a phone bidder for the final price of $19,570,000, nearing, but not topping, the artist’s auction record. Also of particular note was the 1972 cast of Boccioni’s ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space,’ a rare cast of the artist’s iconic sculpture, which sold to Harry Smith, head of the global art advisory Gurr Johns, for a final of $16,165,000, demolishing its $3 million estimate and setting a new world auction record for the artist.
Rene Magritte, Le seize septembre (1957), final price $19,570,000, viua Christie’s
Tamara De Lempicka, La Tunique Rose (1927), final price: $13,362,500, via Sothebys
The following evening, Sotheby’s took up the flag and pushed the week’s results even further, capping off a 50-lot sale with flair, seeing only 8 works go unsold to arrive at a final auction tally of $208,958,100, ultimately turning expectations of a flagging market on its ear, and setting the auction houses up for a strong close to the year in the coming nights.
The sale started strong with a Picasso of its own, which met expectations to finish at a healthy $1,580,000, but caught some turbulence after a trio of Alberto Giacometti works struggled to find sufficient interest, with the trophy piece selling for a final of $6,528,500 and a set of related works struggling (one went unsold). An Edgar Degas saw some interest in the following lots, however, reaching a final of $6,642,400, before the evening’s prized Monet depiction of Charing Cross Bridge sold handily for a $27,600,000, within estimate. Sales following this work were relatively consistent. Another Giacometti reclaimed some of the heat for the artist, doubling its estimate to a $14,273,700 final, while a René Magritte piece also capped a strong week for the surrealist, selling at $8,578,700. These were followed by another prize, a Paul Signac that sold quickly to a telephone bidder to a final of $16,210,000.
Run rather procedurally, there were few surprises or outright triumphs over the course of the night, save for Tamara de Lempicka’s La Tunique Rose, which smashed out of the gate late in the sale to achieve a powerful new auction record for the artist at $13,362,500. Few other works carried such momentum, however, and the sale drew quickly to a close.
Sales continue with the Contemporary market this evening at Christie’s.
— D. Creahan