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Flash News: Van Gogh at Christie’s – Basquiat and Warhol in the spotlight

[16/06/2017]

Van Gogh at Christie’s

There are artists whose name alone creates a stir in the whole art market. Vincent VAN GOGH is one of those rare iconic artists, even more so as his Portrait du Docteur Gachet has been for many years the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. On May 5th, 1990, the Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito bought the 66 centimetre high melancholy portrait of the doctor, for $82.5m. To date, the Portrait of Dr. Gachet remains Van Gogh’s absolute record at auction as works of such quality are particularly rare on the market. The sale of a new painting by Van Gogh is therefore always eagerly awaited and is a powerful magnet for major collectors and museums. Christie’s in London is selling the most recent work by Van Gogh to come to auction and chose it for the cover of the catalogue of its Impressionist and Modern art sale on June 27th. The work depicts a man seen from behind, whose work clothes are as bright as the wheat he is harvesting. An oil on canvas measuring 43.3 x 24.3 cm, it was painted in Saint Rémy de Provence in 1889 after a work by Millet. This canvas, which boasts a remarkable provenance (including exhibitions at the Van Gogh and Orsay museums) came under the hammer in 1995; it was sold slightly under $4m ($3.96 million) at Sotheby’s in London. This time it is expected to pass $20 million, according to its estimate range ($17m-$21m).

Basquiat and Warhol in the spotlight

Sotheby’s has unveiled the star artworks of its next prestigious Contemporary art auction, which takes place on June 28th, 2017 in London. Among the 33 lots selected are two collaborative works by the most famous and most highly regarded American artists of our time: Jean-Michel BASQUIAT and Andy WARHOL. Sweet Pungent and New Flame are two paintings the artists created together in 1984, two years after they first met through the art dealer Bruno Bischofberger. This formal meeting took place two years after the first attempt to get the street artist and the icon of Pop art together. The 1982 meeting marks both the beginning of a true friendship and a creative symbiosis between the artists, which lasted until Warhol’s death in 1987. Both works are from the collection of American businessman Tommy Hilfiger, whose successful eponymous fashion brand has allowed to become one of the 1% richest people in the world. They synthesise the artistic dialogue between these two giants of 20th century art but are estimated at a much more affordable price than if they had been signed individually by Basquiat or Warhol. Although rare on the auction market, these collaborative works are far less highly rated than solo works. Sweet Pungent is estimated at between £1.4 and £1.8 million ($1.8 to $2.3 million) and New Flame has an estimate of between £1.7 and £2.2 million ($2.1- $2.8 million)… Today, works from this period and of this size (more than two metres) by Basquiat would be worth ten times more. Only last month, a smaller canvas signed by Basquiat (Untitled, 1982, 183 x 173cm) went through the roof at Sotheby’s New York on May 18th, 2017, selling for nearly $110.5 million.

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