Results: Sotheby's London Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale

On Wednsesday evening Sotheby's held its London impressionist and modern fine art sale. The sale had some strong results as well as some misses. The evening sale offered 50 lots with 42 selling for a sell-through rate of 84%.  The sale totaled $250.90 million including buyer's premiums and sold a respectable 92.1% by value.  The total, according to Sotheby's is the second highest for an art sale in London. The pre-sale range was $221.34 million to $320.79 million. With that, and without the buyer's premiums the sale hit the lower range of total value.

The top selling lot was by Gustav Klimt (see image) selling for $39.15 million against a pre-sale estimate of $18.9 million to $28.35 million.

The Finacial Times reports on the sale
Seven works of art sold for more than £10m at Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art auction on Wednesday evening.

In a packed and atmospherically lit New Bond Street saleroom, bidding from the floor and by telephone took the auction total to £178.6m for 51 works, ahead of last year’s £122m for the equivalent auction.

Sotheby’s also roundly beat its traditional rival Christie’s, whose London auction on Tuesday evening had brought in £71.5m from the same number of lots.

“After Christie’s ‘warm-up’ sale, Sotheby’s followed with an exceptional auction offering great and diverse material,” said Alexander Platon, a dealer at London’s Marlborough Fine Art gallery.

“There was real momentum in the market tonight,” said Helena Newman, Sotheby’s chairman of impressionist and modern art, Europe, after the auction.

Bidding, she said, had been “very global” with increased interest from China and Russia adding to the “ever expanding pool of buyers in this market”.

The top price of the evening was paid for Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Gertrud Loew — Gertha Felsovanyi” from 1902. This painting, recently restituted to the heirs of its Viennese sitter, sold ahead of its £12m to £18m estimate for £24.8m but took a good 15 minutes and a few quips from Sotheby’s auctioneer, Henry Wyndham, to do so. Two bidders — one in the room and one over the telephone — slowly bid the price up from £9m. “This one was about the winning,” said the London and New York dealer Nick Maclean.

Hits at the lower levels included Henry Moore’s drawing “Two Women and Child”, 1948, which attracted a flurry of bids before selling for £2.2m against a £300,000-£400,000 estimate. Paul Klee’s floating “Journey in Space”, 1929, sold for £1.3m against a £500,000 to £700,000 estimate.

Max Liebermann’s “Two riders on the beach to the left”, 1901, the first work to be sold out of the hoard of Cornelius Gurlitt, whose father was a Nazi-era art dealer, soared above its £350,000 to £550,000 estimate to sell for £1.9m.

There were disappointments too, even at the eight-figure level. Some dealers were surprised that Manet’s “Le bar aux Folies-Bergère”, 1881, an earlier version of the artist’s famed work, had not attracted more interest despite selling for £16.9m (estimated £15m-£20m). The same went for Kazimir Malevich’s “Suprematism, 18th Construction”, 1915, which went for £21.4m (estimated £20m-£30m) but had been expected to generate more excitement.

The auction was not all about paintings: Degas’s iconic sculpture “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” (made in wax around 1880 and cast in bronze after 1922) sold for £15.8m (est £10m-£15m) — to the same woman in the saleroom who had bought the Klimt. The same piece had sold for £7.7m in 2000. “Established collectors were competing with new bidders tonight,” said Ms Newman.

London’s art market season is in full swing. The fashionable Masterpiece fair opened on Wednesday evening at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and next week’s contemporary and modern auctions will see a further £350m-plus on the block, including key works by Francis Bacon and Yves Klein.
Source: The Financial Times

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