Impressionist & Modern Art sales in London: a number of resales…



On 18 and 19 June in London, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are holding their Impressionist & Modern Art sales. Frequented by the world’s most important dealers and collectors, the price estimates at these sales range from $80,000 to $31 million.

Claude MONET, Pablo PICASSO, Salvador DALI, Piet MONDRIAAN, Wassily KANDINSKY… Exceptional signatures often generate multi-million dollar bids. At these two sales in particular, 39% of the lots have high estimates above £1 million (19 lots at Christie’s and 26 at Sotheby’s).
This year’s ultra-premium selection contains a high proportion of works that have relatively recent secondary market history, and their new estimates reflect today’s market expectations. Here are some examples.
Au sein de cette sélection très haut de gamme, les cas de reventes sont fréquents et les nouvelles estimations témoignent des attentes du marché. En voici quelques exemples.

Kandinsky to gain $10 million in just five years?
The star lot at Christie’s, Wassily Kandinsky’s Studie zu Improvisation 3, is an oil and gouache work painted in 1909 (44.7cm x 64.7cm) that sold for $15 million in 2008 (Christie’s New York, 6 November 2008) and which is now carrying a low estimate that is $3.7 million higher (£12 million – £16 million) at the same auctioneer’s sale on 18 June 2013. If it reaches its high estimate, it will have gained $10 million versus its auction price five years back. The work is expected to remain within its price range considering that a larger Improvisation (98cm x 70cm) from the same year fetched $20.5 million last November (Studie für Improvisation 8, 7 November 2012) at Christie’s.

Modigliani to double its value in seven years?
If it reaches its low estimate of £5 million, Amedeo Modigliani’s 1916 Portrait of Paul Guillaume (oil-on-board, 53 cm x 37.5 cm) will have doubled in value compared with its last presentation at auction on 7 November 2006 when it fetched the equivalent of £2.26 million (£2.54 million including buyer’s premium) at Sotheby’s New York. This year, on 18 June at Christie’s, the work is expected to generate between £5 million and £7 million ($7.7 million – $10.9 million).

Picasso: +525% between 1998 and 2013?
Pablo Picasso’s Tête d’homme at Christie’s 18 June sale is in fact a self-portrait (1964), which lends to the work an additional value. It is difficult to recognize the features of the master in the distorted and brightly coloured face; but we do recognize the strength of character and the stylized evocation of the striped sweater made famous by photographer Robert Doisneau. Initially acquired at Christie’s in London on 10 December 1998 for £400,000, this work is now estimated at £2 million – £3 million ($3.1 million – $4.6 million).
The following day Sotheby’s will be offering another self-portrait by Pablo Picasso painted in 1967 (81 cm x 100 cm): Le Peintre has more than doubled in value in six years, since it fetched £2.9 million ($5.7 million) at Sotheby’s in London on 19 June 2007 and was offered on 19 June 2013 in an estimated price range of £5 million – £7 million ($7.8 million – $10.9 million).

Monet’s Palais Contarini to add $20 million?
The success of Sotheby’s sale on 19 June will be largely dependent on a 1908 painting by Claude Monet entitled Le Palais Contarini (73 cm x 92 cm). The star lot of the sale, the work is estimated at between £15 million and £20 million ($23.5 million – $31.3 million). This Venetian palace on the water was an excellent pretext for subtle reflections of light and colour. Christie’s last sold the work for $3.85 million on 30 April 1996 in New York ($4 million including buyer’s premium). If it sells on Wednesday in the mid-range of its estimate, it will have gained no less than $20 million between 1996 and 2013.
Sotheby’s will also be offering a work by Claude Monet: Le Pont de Bois, completed in 1872 (53 cm x 73 cm), the same year as the famous Impression soleil levant. The work has recently emerged after spending over 30 years in the hands of a private American collector who acquired it at a Christie’s sale in November 1971 (London). If it fetches £6 million (its high estimate), its value will have doubled in 30 years (taking into account inflation and purchasing power in 1971). With its bold construction and richly coloured resonations, Le Pont de Bois is indeed expected to fetch a good price. These qualities underpin the latest estimate that is above the £3.8 million recently fetched (Christie’s, 8 May 2013) by another Monet work, Argenteuil, fin d’après-midi, which is similar in terms of date and size.