Against the backdrop of a busy week for art in New York headlined by the Frieze art fair, a sale of 60 works of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s on Monday night brought in a total of 408, $5 million.
Of all the 58 works on offer, 33 were backed by the auction house with a guarantee or an irrevocable bid. At the end of the two-hour sale led by auctioneer Oliver Barker, 7 lots remained unsold.
The group of works surpassed the house’s collective $339.9 million low estimate for the sale, which drew a room half full of onlookers. Records have been set for under-recognized artists with less established secondary markets, including Milton Avery, Leonora Carrington, Maximilien Luce and Jared French. Three lots were withdrawn before the start of the sale.
The work that got the highest price was Pablo Picasso’s 1932 canvas Naked woman lying, which depicts the muse of the Spanish modernist Marie-Thérèse Walter at rest. It sold for $67.5 million, reaching its estimate of $60 million and going to ex-president and artistic adviser to Sotheby’s, Amy Cappellazzo, who bid in the room. Artnet News reported that the painting was being sold by backer Steve Cohen.
Another important element was Paul The wooded landscape of Cézanne The meadow (ca. 1895), which sold for $41.7 million including fees, against an estimate of $30 million. Coming for sale with a warranty, the work was one of three alienated by the Toledo Museums of Art in Ohio for the benefit of its acquisition fund, in a move that drew criticism ahead of the sale. The Cézanne and other works by Henri Matisse and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the process of disposal generated a total of $59.7 million.
Meanwhile, Claude Monet’s lush garden The Arches of Roses, Giverny (1913) hammered his low estimate on a $20 million bid, speaking to a buyer on the phone with Patty Wong, president of Sotheby’s Asia. It went for a final price of $23.3 million. Another bidder on the phone with Wong won a four-foot-tall bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, titled Woman of Venice II, for a final price of $17.5 million with fees. The result doubled the estimate of $8 million.
A 1958 oil on paper painting by Willem de Kooning, titled Leaves at Weehawken, sold for $10 million to a telephone bidder with Bame Fierro March, contemporary specialist at Sotheby’s in New York, who triumphed over Sotheby’s vice-president of the fine arts division, Simon Shaw and another in the room, to win. The auction price was more than three times higher than the low estimate.
Given its just-opened retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Philip Guston’s 1958 painting Nile was to be a major attraction during tonight’s sale. Offered for sale by irrevocable auction and sold for the benefit of a Texan philanthropic foundation, the work has only experienced lukewarm interest. The coin hammered below its $20 million estimate, eventually selling for $18 million with fees.
Eight works were put up for sale under the descriptor “Eternal Style: A Private American Collection. » A UCC deposit by Sotheby’s which has been reviewed by ART news shows that the seller was the estate of Florida philanthropist and museum benefactor Diane Belfer, however. The collector, who died aged 94 in January, kept many of the works for decades.
From Belfer funds, two paintings by Jean Dubuffet, both depicting human limbs appearing in abstract forms, sold for a collective $8.1 million. A bidder on the phone with Sotheby’s New York contemporary specialist Jackie Wachter won a 1964 painting of two Picasso figures, titled Reclining nude and bust of a manwhich sold for $4.2 million, hammering below its $4.5 million estimate and likely going to the irrevocable bidder.
From the same group, the 1945 canvas by Milton Avery The letter, which depicts an interior scene featuring a woman lying on a bed, sold for $6 million, three times the low estimate of $2 million. In the process, a new auction record for the artist was established. The result topped the artist’s previous auction of $5.6 million, set at Sotheby’s in 2014 by the sale of his 1950 painting. Mars and Sally outsideand it precedes an Avery retrospective due to open at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in July.
While marquee artists like Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso have anchored the sale of modern art, the spotlight is turning to artists who have historically been undervalued and rising at auction. This was particularly evident at Sotheby’s sale on Monday, which included a painting by surrealist Leonora Carrington, whose market grew alongside renewed institutional attention for her legacy. (His writing and art inspired the title of this year’s Venice Biennale, which also includes his work.)
Carrington painting from 1957 The Garden of Paracelsus, an eerie scene riddled with ghostly figures, some without heads and others with animal features, sold for $3.3 million. That sum is more than double his estimate of $1.5 million. The result surpassed Carrington’s previous auction record of $2.4 million, set at Sotheby’s New York in 2014.