Christie’s turns over USD 491.4 million from one sale



As expected, Christie’s auction of Impressionist and Modern art has confirmed that the art market is running at historical highs. In a single evening session involving a total of 78 lots, the auction house generated the astonishing figure of USD 491.4 million, the highest ever turnover at a single sale, far higher than Sotheby’s previous global record of USD 286 million notched up in May 1990.

The four Gustav KLIMT paintings drew in USD 192 million, including the highest bid of USD 78,5 million (EUR 87.9 million including fees) for Portrait d’Adele Bloch-Bauer II. These paintings, confiscated by the Nazis from the Bloch-Bauer family, had recently been returned by the Austrian government to the heir of their rightful owners. A fifth painting, Portrait d’Adele Bloch-Bauer I, had been sold in June for USD 135 million in a private deal.

Apart from the Klimt works, a number of new auction records were set at the same sale. Gauguin, Schiele and Kirchner generated respectively USD 36 million for L’homme à la hache, USD 20 million for Single Houses and USD 34 million for Scène de rue berlinoise.

However, the sale of Picasso’s blue period painting Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, acquired by the Lloyd Webber Foundation in 1995 at Sotheby’s NY for USD 26.5 million, and today carrying a high estimate of close to USD 60 million, was postponed at the last minute after a temporary decision by a US Judge relating to Mr Julius H Schoeps’s claim that the painting had belonged to his great uncle, Paul von Mendelsshohn-Bartholdy, who was forced to sell it by the Nazis.