Christie's New York Sales

I was traveling and missed posting on Wednesday about the Tuesday sale at Christie's, and by most accounts a very good sale, especially when compared to the poor sale at Sotheby's on Monday evening.

The Tuesday evening post war and contemporary sale totaled $277 million including buyer's premiums. It offered 61 lots, with 54 selling for an 89% sell through rate, and it sold 94% by value. Four artist auction records were also set.

On Wednesday evening Christie's held its impressionist and modern sale. It totaled $246.3 million, selling 39 of 48 lots, for an 88% sell through rate. The top selling lost was Claude Monte's "Grainstack", which sold for $81.4 million including buyers premium. It last sold in 2002 for $12 million.

The first block quote is from the Wall Street Journal on the impressionist and modern sale, the second block quote is from the WSJ on Tuesday's post war and contemporary sale.

The Wall Street Journal reports
Fourteen years. That’s how long famed Denver stock picker Tom Marsico owned Claude Monet’s pink-and-purple painting of a “Grainstack,” having bought it around 2002 when it was worth roughly $12 million.

Fourteen minutes. That’s how long it took for Christie’s to auction off Mr. Marsico’s masterpiece, as five collectors locked in a dogged bidding war pushed “Grainstack” to a final sale price of $81.4 million—breaking Monet’s record and sending a boost of confidence into the beleaguered art market overall.

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The 1891 canvas, which was won by an anonymous collector bidding over the telephone, was only expected to sell for around $45 million.

The previous record for a Monet was $80.4 million, set by a “Water Lily Pond” that sold at Christie’s eight years ago.

Art lawyer Thomas Danziger marveled at what he called the “hay fever” exuberance at the $246.3 million sale, adding, “Buyers were understandably nervous this week about the health of the art market, but it appears the top end of the market is alive and well.”

Wassily Kandinsky’s 1935 “Rigid and Curved” also reset the artist’s record when it sold for $23.3 million to New York art adviser Gabriel Catone, within its $18 million to $25 million estimate. And Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese founder of online retailer Zozotown who bought a $57 million Jean-Michel Basquiat at Christie’s in May, added to his collection on Wednesday by winning a $22.6 million Pablo Picasso portrait of his mistress, “Head of a Woman (Dora Maar).” The brightly colored Picasso was estimated to sell for between $18 million and $25 million.

After the sale, Christie’s Chairman Brett Gorvy said he was part of a team who showed the Picasso to Mr. Maezawa in Hong Kong a few weeks ago. Mr. Gorvy said the collector called the painting “as fresh as a Grotjahn,” referring to contemporary art star Mark Grotjahn.

Overall, 39 of Christie’s 48 pieces found buyers, helping the house achieve 88% of the sale’s total potential value. But several key pieces also failed to sell, including a Paul Cezanne landscape that was expected to sell for at least $10 million and another Picasso painting of Dora Maar that was estimated to sell for at least $9 million.

In a rare double-header, earlier that night boutique auction house Phillips held its $111.2 million contemporary sale, led by German painter Gerhard Richter’s $25.6 million depiction of a warplane in 1963, “Dusenjager,” that was sold by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Another hit: Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-Pop-style “Nudes in Mirror,” a 1994 painting that a vandal had slashed several times a decade ago. The piece was later repaired using an acupuncture needle and sold for $21.5 million, just over its $20 million estimate.

Elsewhere in Phillips’ sale, an untitled Clyfford Still abstract from 1948-1949 sold for $13.7 million, over its $12 million low estimate. And designer Tommy Hilfiger sold five works for $7 million combined, including a $3.6 million Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Untitled (Devil’s Head).”
Source: Wall Street Journal 

Here is the Wall Street Journal article on Tuesday's evenings postwar and contemporary sale at Christie's
Christie’s New York sold a colorful 1977 abstract by Willem de Kooning for $66.3 million, a price that reset the artist’s record and could bolster collectors’ confidence in values for newer art.

A day after Sotheby’s struggled to sell $157.7 million in impressionist and modern art, Christie’s rallied by selling $277 million worth of postwar and contemporary art, a total that easily surpassed its $216 million expectation.

Christie’s sale got off to a rocky start, though, in part because sellers withdrew four major works from the sale—including an oversize sculpture of a gorilla by Jeff Koons that Christie’s had prominently displayed in the plaza outside its Rockefeller Center saleroom. Christie’s said the gorilla, which was estimated to sell for at least $2 million, was withdrawn because the seller accepted a private offer beforehand.

So who was behind Christie’s strong sale? U.S. buyers, who took home more than half the offerings, the house said. The telephone bidder who won De Kooning’s “Untitled XXV” remains anonymous, but the house said a U.S. buyer won Jean Dubuffet’s $23.8 million rainbow-hued scene of Parisian shoppers from 1961, “Les Grandes Artères,” over its $20 million high estimate.

Paul Gray, a Chicago-based dealer whose clients include Citadel hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin, outbid an Asian collector on the telephone to win Gerhard Richter’s “Abstract Painting (809-2)” for $22 million, over its $18 million low estimate. The seller, rocker Eric Clapton, paid $3.5 million for the abstract along with two additional Richters in 2001; Mr. Clapton has since resold all three, including this one, for $77 million combined. “Eric is happy,” said Christie’s specialist Francis Outred after the sale.

John Currin’s portrait of a pair of nude women, 1999’s “Nice ‘n Easy,” also sold for its low estimate of $12 million following a single bid. The work carried a third-party guarantee, or a promised bidder, who won the work because no one else stepped up to offer more. At least seven works in Christie’s were sold to one-bid winners.

Elsewhere in the sale, Robert Ryman’s 2002 minimalist work, “Connect,” sold for $10.8 million, over its $10 million low estimate.

The most spirited moment of Christie’s sale came midway through when a young Asian man wearing a black headband and standing in the back of the saleroom won a $3.9 million painting, “The Bridge,” by hot-right-now Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie. The work was only expected to sell for up to $2.5 million. Early in the sale, another Ghenie, “Flight Into Egypt,” sold for $1.3 million to an Asian collector wearing an argyle sweater and sitting in the front row. Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen said Ghenie’s lush blend of figurative and abstract painting styles appeal to global buyers, including those in Asia.

Another sleeper hit was Giuseppe Gallo, a Roman artist who is little known in U.S. art circles but whose sunny untitled image of autumn leaves sold Tuesday for $367,500—six times its high estimate. A foundation for Italian collectors Chiara and Francesco Carraro sold the Gallo and several works by other Italian artists to help raise funds for a planned private museum in Venice.

Overall, Christie’s sold 54 of its 61 offerings, or 89%—a solid result that could buoy its sale of impressionist and modern art on Wednesday.
Source: Wall Street Journal

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