Results: Christies London - ImpMod Evening Sale

On Tuesday Christie's held its evening Impressionist and Modern art evening sale. The sale totaled $227.1 million, offered 92 lots with 80 selling for an impressive 87% sell through rate. It sold 80% by value as well. The top selling lot was Picasso's Femme assise, robe bleue, estimated to sell between $6.5 million and $13 million. It sold for an impressive $29.13 million including buyers premium. As a matter of fact, the top three selling lots were all by Picasso. Eight of the top ten sold for above the high estimates, many were just above the high estimate due to the buyers premium, but a few, like the top selling Picasso sold for multiples above the pre sale estimates.  According to Christie's this sale achieved the third highest total for London ImpMod sales.

Interesting to note, Eduard Monet's water lily painting with a reasonable $26 million estimate failed to find any bidders as did a ballerina painting by Degas, indicating collectors are being very selective.  The top three lots brought in close to 30% of the total from the 80 lot offering, indicating the sale was definitely top heavy, and although the numbers seem very high, keep in mind the sale had many more lots than usual.

It will be interesting to see how this sale and the upcoming ImpMod sale at Sotheby's are evaluated by the trade.  I too would like to see a review and report on the sales from a financial perspective by Mei Mose/BAA as they did at the last ImpMod and contemporary sales. 

Christie's reported on the sale

Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s London: “Fierce demand at this evening’s auction resulted in one of the highest ever sold rates for the category in London with 87% works selling, 31 for over £1 million. We assembled an auction rich in provenance and quality and these were the key attributes that fuelled the determination of global collectors. The top 3 prices were paid for portraits of 3 different lovers of Picasso, an artist who continues to attract the widest and most diverse global audience. We are thrilled to have realized funds this evening for two such worthy causes; the University of Sydney who sold a portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter given to them by an anonymous donor; and the Beyeler Foundation in Basel who will benefit from the proceeds of the sale of the Estate of the late, great Ernst Beyeler.”

Top lots of this evening’s sale:

A portrait of Dora Maar, who became Pablo Picasso’s lover and muse at the expense of Marie-Thérèse Walter, sold for £17,961,250 / $29,133,148 / €20,260,290. Painted in 1939 shortly after the outbreak of the 2nd World War, it had been unseen since it was exhibited at Galerie Beyeler in 1967 and was offered at auction having been acquired by the family of the vendor circa 1968. It had been expected to realize £4 million to £8 million and was acquired by Dimitri Mavromatis.

Jeune fille endormie, 1935, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) sold for £13,481,250 / $21,866,588 / €15,206,850 (A$20,626,313). An intimate portrait of the artist’s lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, this important masterpiece was given to the University of Sydney in 2010 by an anonymous donor on condition that it would be sold and that the University would dedicate the proceeds to scientific research. It was acquired by an anonymous bidder in the room. Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney: “When they gave us this remarkable work our donor said "this painting is going to change the lives of many people." They were right. We are grateful for their extraordinary generosity and delighted with the outcome of the auction."

Buste de Françoise, 1946, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) sold for £10,681,250 / $17,324,988 / €12,048,450. A portrait of Françoise Gilot, the artist and author who became Picasso’s lover in the 1940s and with whom he had two of his children, it was offered at auction for the first time from the Estate of Ernst Beyeler, the legendary Swiss art dealer. The auction offered a selection of works from the the estate of Ernst Beyeler which realized a combined total of £44,683,950 / $72,477,367 / €50,403,496 (SFr: 60,804,224).

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