Flash News: Sotheby’s Top 3 of Modern Art – Christie’s Top 3 of Modern Art – Latin American art – watch this space!



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Sotheby’s Top 3 of Modern Art – Christie’s Top 3 of Modern Art – Latin American art – watch this space!

Sotheby’s Top 3 of Modern Art

On 4 November 2014 in New York, Sotheby’s held its best-ever sale of Impressionist and Modern Art. The final proceeds exceeded $422 million including buyer’s premiums, with bids coming from 40 different countries. Above all, this stunning success was due to three masterpieces by Giacometti, Modigliani and Van Gogh. These three works generated over 50% of the takings for this prestigious sale (over $233 million, or 55% of revenues).
Alberto GIACOMETTI came close to matching the record he set in 2010 with l’Homme qui marche I (sold for $92.5 million or $103.6 million including buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s London on 3 February 2010). Indeed, his bronze masterpiece Chariot had the potential to break the artist’s record. Dating from 1950, there are only six specimens of this filament-thin woman as she balances precariously on a high-wheeled chariot. Two of these rare bronzes remain in private hands. With an estimate of $100 million and an owner’s guarantee, there was just one bid for this sculpture. The addition of the buyer’s premium to the hammer price of $90 million allowed it to break the $100 million barrier.
The second-best result of this evening was the Tête (1911-1912) sculpted in stone by Italian artist Amedeo MODIGLIANI. With an estimate in the region of $45 million, it attracted some lively bidding. The piece finally sold for $63 million, breaking the artist’s record set by his oil on canvas La Belle romaine (Nu assis sur un divan (la belle romaine), sold for $61.5 million or $69 million with buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s on 2 November 2010). As rare as it is beautiful, this type of work has experienced a 35% increase in value over the last four years. A similar (though slightly smaller) Tête was sold for $16.3 million less in 2010.
The third outstanding sale at Sotheby’s was a bouquet of flowers painted by Vincent VAN GOGH just a few weeks before his death in 1890. Exploding with colour, Nature morte, vase aux marguerites et coquelicots sailed past its high estimate of $50 million to go under the hammer for $55 million ($61.7 million with buyer’s premium). It is a long time since the Dutch artist has reached such dizzy heights in the sale room. Indeed, we have to go back as far as 1998 to find a Van Gogh that sold for more than $50 million.

Christie’s Top 3 of Modern Art

Hot on the heels of Sotheby’s major event, Christie’s held its own prestigious Impressionist and Modern Art sale on 5 November. But with total sales of just $165.6 million including buyer’s premium, the results were unspectacular compared to the $422 million racked up by its arch rival. Only one of the 39 lots offered by Christie’s broke the $50 million threshold – one of the last Édouard MANET masterpieces to remain in private hands. Le Printemps, a portrait of actress Jeanne Demarsy, was painted in 1881. It depicts her in profile, wearing a bonnet and carrying a parasol. In 1909 it was sold by the galerie Durand-Ruel to Colonel Oliver H Payne in New York, and it has remained in the family’s possession ever since. Six bidders battled it out for this particular gem, with dealer Otto Naumann finally emerging victorious with a bid of $58 million, or $65.1 million including buyer’s premium. The painting will now adorn the walls of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Apart from Le Printemps, the $10 million threshold remained intact, though two other works came close: Alberto Giacometti’s bronze Stèle III smashed its high estimate by more than $2 million, going under the hammer for $8.7 million ($9.9 million with buyer’s premium), while Tuilerie à Mont-Roig, painted by Joan MIRO when he was 25 years old did well to change hands for $8.6 million including buyer’s premium. Collectors are now fighting over Miro’s early paintings: one of his typical biomorphic, surrealist works doubled its estimate on the same day: Sans Titre, a gouache from 1939 with an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, finally sold for $1.2 million including buyer’s premium.

Latin American art – watch this space!

On 24 November 2014, Sotheby’s New York will be presenting the most important collection of Latin American art that has ever come up for auction. The owner of this prestigious collection was Lorenzo H Zambrano, a Mexican businessman and former CEO of Cemex, one of the largest cement producers in the world, who died in Madrid on 12 May 2014. Mr Zambrano gathered together the greatest names of 20th-century Mexican art, including Diego RIVERA, Rufino TAMAYO, Francisco TOLEDO, Leonora CARRINGTON and Remedios Lizarraga VARO, along with other masterpieces of the Latin American scene. In total, this collection could generate $30-$40 million dollars at auction, the highest estimate ever for a sale of this type.
A 2.5 metre museum piece by Diego Rivera is likely to create a new record for the artist. This has been held since 1995 by the painting Baile en Tehuantepec (sold for $2.8 million at Sotheby’s on 17 May 1995). Other keenly-anticipated works include Une nature morte by Rufino Tamayo, estimated at $3-$4 million, and a surrealist gem from Leonora Carrington – the Tentation de Saint Antoine, which could set a new record for the artist in the region of $1.8 to $2.2 million. The sheer quality and consistency of the works on offer make this a landmark sale of Latin American art.