Flash news: Fernando Botero, Françoise Gilot and David Hockney in the next sales


Eleven works by Botero at auction

This is an exciting time to be buying or selling works by the great Colombian artist Fernando BOTERO who died last September. In 2023, he was ranked among the world’s 50 best-performing artists at auction with sales of almost $39m including a new personal best of $5.1m achieved last November (The Musicians, 1979, Christie’s New York).

Until 1 March 2024, Sotheby’s is offering an online sale of no fewer than eleven works by Botero (three sculptures, one drawing and seven paintings) from the Salomón & Rosita Lerner collection. This provenance adds an extra touch of soul to the sale, as Salomón and Rosita Lerner were not only admiring Botero collectors, they were also dear friends and supporters of the artist. The relationship between Salomón Lerner and Fernando Botero was profound, both on a friendly and intellectual level. They also collaborated on a number of projects including exhibitions, conferences and other initiatives to promote Latin American art. Encompassing Botero’s most famous themes, from bullfighting to domestic life and political satire, the collection currently being broken up reveals the intellectual complicity and humour of the two friends. Estimates range from $40,000 for the drawing of Madame Gres to $1.5m for the most important paintings.

Fernando Botero: change in auction price (copyright Artprice.com)

Secret estimate for a painting by Françoise Gilot

Portrait of Geneviève with a Necklace of Doves (1944) is the very first lot in Sotheby’s prestigious London sale of modern and contemporary art, which takes place on 6 March. The painting is by Françoise GILOT, who was not only Pablo Picasso’s companion and muse in the 1940s and 50s but also an independent writer and painter, refusing to let herself be defined solely by her relationship with Picasso. The Portrait of Geneviève is one of the most eagerly-awaited sales in London for the start of the year and the estimate has been kept secret, the mystery increasing the interest… Sotheby’s is demonstrating its art of arousing curiosity and desire.

At least two portraits of Geneviève (Geneviève Laporte, Françoise’s close friend) have already appeared at auctions in the past: a gouache on paper sold for just $5,250 at Bonhams London in 2013 and a 35-centimetre oil on canvas sold for $162,500 at Sotheby’s New York in 2015 (Portrait de geneviève en blanc). But the Portrait of Geneviève to be presented on 6 March is a much more important work than the previous two. Although it is not very big (65 x 54 cm), it is remarkable for its plastic force and its date. It was painted in 1944 by a 23-year-old Françoise Gilot who was already a master of her craft and had absorbed the talents of Matisse and Picasso, whom she had met a few months earlier. While a six-figure result is expected, it seems unlikely that the painting will reach the million mark, as was the case on two occasions in 2021 for works that were certainly much later, but much larger.

Geographical breakdown of prices from Françoise Gilot’s auctions in 2023 (copyright Artprice.com)

Inaugural David Hockney work expected to fetch $20m at Christie’s

The blue meanders of David HOCKNEY‘s swimming pools painted under the California sun are among the most beloved subjects of 20th-century art. The most famous pool of all is probably A Bigger Splash, a painting that has been in London’s Tate Gallery since 1981. Another milestone in the painter’s oeuvre, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), a vast acrylic from 1972, sold for $90.3m in 2018 at Christie’s, setting the auction record for a living artist at the time.

Christie’s is offering another Hockney treasure on 7 March at its London sale of 20th and 21st century art. It is California, a hedonistic masterpiece whose two nude figures floating in the pool were painted in 1965 after Hockney’s first trip to Los Angeles. It was therefore one of the first paintings to depict his most emblematic motif, paving the way for his most famous works such as Sunbather (1966) and A Bigger Splash (1967).

In a private collection since 1968, the painting was last seen in public in 1979, reappearing after an absence of more than forty years. One of the highlights of the forthcoming London sales, the estimate is in the region of $20 million.

Index of prices at David Hockney auctions (copyright Artprice.com)