Results: Sotheby's and Christie's NY Impressionist and Modern Evening Sales

This week we started the important New York art sales at Sotheby's and Christie's.  On Tuesday evening Sotheby's had a very strong evening with a grand total of $422.11 million (including buyers premiums). This was also the highest total for a Sotheby's auction int he company's history. The total pre sale estimated range was $316 million to $454.9 million.

The sale offered 73 lots with 58 selling for a respectable but not outstanding sell through rate of nearly 80%.  The sale sold 95.2% by value. The top selling lot was a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, called Chariot, a painted bronze on wooden base selling for $100,965,000 and purchased by an anonymous buyer (see image above).

On Wednesday evening Christie's held it sale, which did not hit the numbers of the Sotheby's sale, although it was not expected to.  35 lots sold. The Christie's evening sale totaled $165.6 million (including buyers premiums). The sale beat the auction house high estimate of $158 millionThe sale offered 39 lots  with 35 selling for a strong 90% sell through rate. The sale sold 87% by value. The top selling lot was by Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Le Printemps, oil on canvas, painted in 1881 and it set an auction record for the artist (see image).  The Manet sold for $65.12  against an estimate of $25-$35 million.  The buyer was the J. Paul Getty Museum. Interesting the top selling lot accounted for about 40% of the total for the Christie's evening sale.

 Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal reports on the Sotheby's sale
Sotheby’s got New York’s fall auctions off to a rollicking start with a sale of Impressionist and modern art on Tuesday that totaled $422.1 million, the highest in the 270-year-old company’s history. Leading the charge was Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s 1951-52 bronze “Chariot”—depicting a finger-thin woman riding atop a chariot—that sold to a telephone bidder for $101 million.

Collectors and dealers in Sotheby’s York Avenue salesroom gasped when auctioneer Henry Wyndham kicked off the bidding for the work at $80 million, and quiet pervaded the early moments of the bidding. Sotheby’s had staked its own money to guarantee that the work would sell, a risky strategy, but it paid off when a telephone bidder swooped in at the last minute and placed a single, winning bid. The work had been estimated to sell for $90 million or more.

The “Chariot” now ranks with Edvard Munch’s $120 million “The Scream” as one of the most expensive artworks ever sold at auction, but the record for a Giacometti still belongs to the artist’s “Walking Man I,” which sold for $104.3 million four years ago. The “Chariot” buyer remains anonymous, but the specialist handling the winning bid typically represents American collectors.

Overall, 58 of the 73 lots found buyers, which meant Sotheby’s only sold 79.4% of its pieces. But the robust prices paid for a handful of pieces helped the sale attain a healthy 95.2% of its total potential value. Among the casualties were examples by Balthus, Matisse, Marc Chagall and Giorgio de Chirico.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Kelly Crow reports on the Christie's sale
It may be autumn, but Christie’s got a dose of “Spring” when it sold Édouard Manet’s wispy view of a woman sporting a bonnet and parasol for $65.1 million in New York on Wednesday—nearly doubling its high estimate and breaking the artist’s auction record.

Manet unveiled the 1881 work to great acclaim at Paris’s taste-making Salon in 1882. He intended the work to form part of a four-part series on the seasons, but the artist died two years later, before he could finish “Autumn.” He was 51 years old.

Stories often help sell paintings, and “Spring” enjoyed a colorful afterlife, bought in 1909 by Col. Oliver Payne, an Ohio oil magnate who famously owned a 300-foot-long steam yacht named Aphrodite. The colonel’s heirs sold the Manet on Wednesday; the buyer, a young man with a faux-hawk hairdo and a red necktie, works for Otto Naumann, an old-masters dealer in New York. The gallery was bidding on behalf of an anonymous client.

Sizzling provenance couldn’t save Fernand Leger’s scene of a construction crew working beside an aloe plant, however. Christie’s failed to find a buyer for “The Constructors, with Tree,” despite its $16 million low estimate. The 1949-50 work’s prior owners included casino magnate Steve Wynn and Chicago’s Sara Lee Corp., but when the Leger went up for bid on Wednesday, the house’s Rockefeller Center salesroom fell still. Before the sale, Christie’s had offered the work a guarantee, a financial mechanism in which it pledges to buy a work if no one else does.

Despite the disappointing Leger, Christie’s managed to sell 35 of its 39 lots, bringing in a total of $165.6 million. Three other works went unsold, including examples by René Magritte and Maurice de Vlaminck. The sum fell within its own presale estimate (before Christie’s added its commission), but it fell far short of Sotheby’s record-setting $422.1 million sale on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Christie’s sale, a dealer bidding by telephone paid $9.9 million for an Alberto Giacometti view of his brother’s head on a plinth, “Stele III,” that was estimated to sell for up to $6.5 million. That work fetched $308,000 when it was last auctioned in 1983.

An early Joan Miró, “Tileworks at Mont-roig” from 1918, sold for $8.7 million. A cubist work by Gino Severini, “Study for Self-Portrait in a Summer Hat,” reset the artist’s auction record when it sold for $4.7 million, well over its $1.4 million high estimate.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s will hold a series of contemporary sales next week.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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