Flash News: The Schieles of November – Christie’s in Shanghai – A Giacometti masterpiece at Sotheby’s



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: The Schieles of November – Christie’s in Shanghai – A Giacometti masterpiece at Sotheby’s

The Schieles of November

In early November, Christie’s and Sotheby’s are offering five drawings by Egon SCHIELE in New York (between 4 and 6 November 2014). These include two works that once belonged to Fritz Grünbaum, a German cabaret artist who died in Dachau in 1941, according to an article in the New York Times (Dispute Over Nazi Victim’s Art, 24 October, Patricia Cohen and Graham Bowley). The sale of works once owned by Jews in Europe during the Nazi era has once more triggered a debate about financial compensation for the heirs. The drawing entitled Town on the Blue River (1910) is being sold by Christie’s on 5th November in conjunction with a restitution agreement that views the works as looted art, and Grünbaum’s heirs will receive compensation. This will not be the case with the magnificent gouache to be sold by Sotheby’s a day earlier: Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (43.2 cm x 29.9 cm), a drawing that has already been the subject of a protracted legal battle, ending in favour of the current owner. This work from 1917 is the most significant piece by Schiele to be auctioned this autumn. Estimates range from $1.2 million to $1.8 million: an attractive proposition for such a high quality piece. The auction market has not seen a work of this calibre since November 2013.

Christie’s in Shanghai

On 24th October, Christie’s wheeled out around sixty Asian and Western works, mainly 20th century and contemporary pieces, in its new Shanghai saleroom. A resounding success, since 95% of the lots were sold, including Andy WARHOL‘s Flowers (20.7 cm x 20.7 cm, hammer price: $195,480), a Tête d’homme by Pablo PICASSO (1969, 21.2 cm x 16.89 cm, hammer price: $553,860), and a red and gold aluminium Love by Robert INDIANA (hammer price: $602,730). These were the Western artists much sought-after in Shanghai, not to mention Marc CHAGALL, to whom Christie’s owed the second highest bid of the sale.

We knew of Chagall’s popularity in Japan, but he proved equally successful in China, when Les amoureux dans la nuit d’hiver fetched $1,140,300 on 24 October (over $1.73 million including the buyer’s premium). This romantic painting was bought-in at New York in 1991, a period when the global market was flagging. Two days after knocking down Les Amoureux dans la nuit d’hiver, Christie’s Shanghai sold another Chagall for over a million: L’offrande au peintre, a 1983 oil on canvas that went for $1,134,700 (over $1.36 million including the buyer’s premium). The artist’s Chinese record is still the one set in Hong Kong in 2010 with Bestiaire et Musique, which fetched over $3.6 million.
/The market in China is now opening up to Western blue-chips, but leading Chinese artists still show the highest increases in value. On 24 October, the top price in Shanghai went to the contemporary artist ZENG Fanzhi, whose oil on canvas Untitled 06-3 fetched $2,687,850 ($3.17 million including the buyer’s premium).

A Giacometti masterpiece at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s will be showcasing a major work by Alberto GIACOMETTI in its next Impressionist and Modern sale on 4 November 2014. The work in question is no. 2 of six bronze proofs cast by Alexis Rudier, measuring around 144 cm, representing the frail, drawn-out body of a woman standing on a table, itself standing on the chariot that gives this 1951 masterpiece its title. The work concentrates all Giacometti’s expressive power through his vision of humankind. This particular woman conveys all the ambivalence of human existence as a whole: both its great fragility and the energy at work in every action. This copy of The Chariot, no. 2/6 might become one of the world’s most expensive works of art if Sotheby’s can bring it off, because it could well pass the $100 million-mark, and topple Giacometti’s current record. This has been held since 2010 by Walking Man I, no. 2/6, sold for over $103 million including the buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s London on 3 February 2010.