Christie’s $416 Million Impressionist and Modern Art Sale Reaffirms Bull Market for Finest Materials

After Sotheby’s anti-climactic opening sale in New York on Monday night, which left attendees shrugging as they returned their unused paddles, Christie’s delivered a resounding encore on Tuesday with its evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art. , totaling $416 million with fees. With confidence buoyed by the white glove sale of the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection last week, Christie’s total topped $289 million a year ago and was way off the pre-sale estimate of $326 million. dollars to $450 million, even minus Picasso’s The Sailor. (1943), which had been guaranteed at $70 million but was pulled from sale after being damaged during the weekend premiere.

A third of the works sold above their high estimates, and there were only four buy-ins among 37 lots on offer. The highest price was for Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist Composition (1916), which set the artist’s record at $60 million at its 2008 sale. $70 million order and made $86 million with fees. It was sold, after a sports fight with Alexander Rotter, co-head of Christie’s post-war and contemporary department, to dealer Brett Gorvy, of Lévy Gorvy, bidding on behalf of a client.

Brancusi’s brass sculpture The Perfected Maiden (Portrait of Nancy Cunard), cast in 1932, sets a new record for the artist at $71 million Courtesy of Christie’s LTD

Not far behind the Malevich, and bearing the same estimate, was Constantin Brancusi’s shapely brass sculpture on a carved marble plinth, The Perfected Maiden (Portrait of Nancy Cunard). Cast in 1932, the unique work was acquired by Elizabeth and Frederick Stafford directly from the artist in 1955 for $5,000 and has been owned by the family ever since. Phone bidding shattered between Maria Los, Director of Client Advisory, and contemporary Rotter co-manager Loïc Gouzer until he won $63 million at the hammer, or $71 million with fees, another artist’s record. One of four guaranteed lots from the sale, all via third parties, was a gamble that paid off, even considering the previous record for a Brancusi bronze was set at $57 million in the same auction house a year earlier.

View of the Asylum and Chapel of Saint-Paul de Mausole (Saint-Rémy)(1889) by Vincent Van Gogh, brought in $39.7 million Courtesy of Christie’s Images LTD

It was enough for a landscape by Van Gogh that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor, View of the asylum and the Chapel of Saint-Paul de Mausole (Saint-Rémy) (1889), to look a bit like a disappointment. With auctioneer Adrien Meyer starting at $24 million, a three-way contest only puts him above the lower end of his $35-55 million estimate, for a final prize of $40 million. dollars. It’s worth remembering, though, that the photo last sold for less than half that amount – $16 million – in 2012.

The quality and provenance offered by two private collections—of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Coles and Joan and Preston Tisch—performed well in the Impressionist category. Towards the end of the sale, one of Coles’ works, Monet’s Apple Tree (1879), nicely estimated between $1.5 and $2.5 million, sparked a bidding rush of up to $7 million. dollars with fees. The updraft helped propel Édouard Manet’s Coles, L’Italienne (1860), well past its $3-5 million estimate, eventually selling to Andrew Maker of the Richard Gray Gallery for $11 million with fees. “I didn’t buy it for the stock,” he said as he walked out of the auction room, but declined to reveal his client.

L’Italienne (1860) by Edouard Manet was sued by several bidders up to $11 million Courtesy of Christie’s Images LTD

Among participants from 35 countries, Asian auctions were active but not as aggressive as past seasons; in fact, Christie’s Asia representatives have often been challenged in phone wars by colleagues in the contemporary department. Gouzer, who helped roll up the Malevich for sale, says such cross-pollination is natural. ” All that we [in the post-war and contemporary department] sell springs of this big bang of modernism. You can follow a line from Mondrian to Malevich to Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman. We’re starting to see a ping-pong reaction, with collectors going back and forth between the two. »

Melanie Clore, of the London consultancy Clore Wyndham, confirms a trend in recent years of collectors seeking “above all, high quality works, whatever their date of creation”. Although these buyers tended to move forward rather than backward in time, she adds that the above-average results for 19th-century works in the Coles and Tisch collections show that “the market continues to be discriminatory, but there is high demand and deep bidding. when the works are of good quality, freshly put on the market and well estimated.

With additional encouraging results for Picasso, Miró and Alberto Giacometti, the auction smoothed out the wrinkle introduced by underperformers the night before and raised high expectations for post-war and contemporary sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips on 16-17. May.

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