Sotheby's Imp/Mod Evening Sales Results

Just a quick post, as I get ready to go to NYC for the AAA annual conference.  I had to miss Art Law Day, but I am excited to be attending the conference and also in hearing Clare McAndrew presentation on the global art market on Monday morning.  Hope to see old friends and meet new appraisers.

On Thursday evening Sotheby's held its Fall Impressionist and modern art sale in New York City.  The sale offered 47 lots with 36 selling for a rather less than exciting 76.6% sell through rate. The sale sold 92.9% by value, which tells me the works that did sell, performed well.  The sale totaled $306.7 million including buyers premiums. The pre-sale estimate range for the sale was $275.6 million to $369.2 million.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the sale
“Landscape Under a Stormy Sky” is a view of a country field painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1889. The title could also describe the art market’s roiling nerves as collectors filed into Sotheby’s on Thursday, a day after the auction house held a tepid sale of the estate of the painting’s former owner that sparked fears of an overall downturn.

But Sotheby’s successful, $306.7 million follow-up sale of Impressionist and modern art could go a long way toward reassuring bidders that the art market remains sunny, at least for blue-chip artists like van Gogh. His “Landscape” sold for $54 million. (The telephone bidder who won the work faced no competition, though.)

Oil-refining billionaire Bill Koch’s Pablo Picasso portrait of a nude “Nightclub Singer” from 1901 sold to Swiss dealer Doris Ammann for $67.5 million, above its $60 million estimate and establishing a new auction high for a work from the artist’s Blue Period. Ms. Ammann got two Picassos for the price of one because conservators have discovered another scene Picasso painted on the reverse of the canvas.

Mr. Koch also sold Claude Monet’s 1908 “Water Lilies” for $33.8 million, above its $30 million low estimate.

Elsewhere during the sale, several heirs of Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich huddled in Sotheby’s boardroom and watched a live video feed as his 1920-1922 “Mystic Suprematism (Black Cross on Red Oval)” sold to a telephone bidder for $37.7 million, over its $35 million low estimate. The painting was the last of a group of five Malevich paintings that hung in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum for a half-century before being returned to the artist’s family in 2008.

The estate of Belgian collectors Louis and Evelyn Franck, which included the van Gogh, also proved popular with bidders. Nine works from the estate sold for a combined $98.5 million, well above their combined presale estimate of $83 million. Works in the group included Picasso’s pastel “Nude with Crossed Legs” that sold for its high estimate of $12 million and van Gogh’s $7.6 million portrait of “Baby Marcelle Roulin,” the youngest child of the artist’s postman friend in Arles, Joseph Roulin. The infant, shown sporting a gold pinkie ring and bracelet and white cap against a pistachio sky, was only expected to sell for as much as $5 million.

Overall, Sotheby’s sale fell comfortably within its total presale estimate of $275.6 million to $369.2 million, a solid result that could assuage collectors who were rattled after the house failed to sell paintings by Jasper Johns and Edgar Degas that were each expected to sell for at least $15 million during a sale of A. Alfred Taubman’s estate Wednesday. Thursday’s sale was also speckled with casualties—11 of its 47 offerings went unsold—but these works by Camille Pissarro, Paul C├ęzanne and Chaim Soutine carried price tags under $5 million.

Sotheby’s said its daylong sale of lower-priced pieces from Mr. Taubman’s estate also fared well, hitting its high-estimate target of about $43 million.

Next week, Christie’s International and smaller house Phillips will counter with their own art sales.
Source: The Wall Street Journal 

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