News bites: Picasso commemorations – Chagall sales – Kusama results



Picasso commemorations

Pablo Picasso died half a century ago, on April 8, 1973 at his home in Mougins, in the south of France. To commemorate his passing, more than 50 exhibitions have been organized around the world and the auction market can expect a very substantial offer this year. Already, since the start of the year, nearly 600 works by Pablo PICASSO have been sold around the world for over $88 million in total. Every year, more than 3,000 Picasso lots change hands generating annual totals that frequently exceed $500 million, depending on the number of masterpieces offered. So far this year, three of his works have already crossed the $10 million threshold. In 2022, nine Picasso results crossed that threshold, but with the 50th anniversary celebrations, we expect the auction houses will move heaven and earth to present an even greater number of mega-valued masterpieces during the year.

Q1 top result for a sculpture hammered for a work by Kusama

The top auction result for a sculpture during the first quarter of 2023 was $7.9 million for a large Pumpkin (L) measuring nearly two and a half meters high by Yayoi KUSAMA, and it was a new auction record for a sculpture by the Japanese artist. The work was presented in Hong Kong as part of a sale marking Sotheby’s 50th year of activity in Asia. The sale offered works by Eastern and Western masters and included works by hot Contemporary signatures like Lucy Bull, Loie Hollowell, Issy Wood and Shara Hughes.

Yayoi Kusama’s spectacular success and popularity is continuing to expand. Now aged 94, the artist’s work has made grand appearances in the heart of Paris and New York, with a colossal statue in her effigy in front of the Paris headquarters of Louis Vuitton, and an astonishing animatronic robot in the window of the Vuitton store on New York’s 5th avenue. These giant clones mark the latest collaboration between Vuitton and the most coveted Japanese woman on the art market. At auction, Kusama’s works have posted an exceptional sold-through rate of 87% since the beginning of the year. Remember that last year, her annual turnover of $194 million gave her tenth place in our global ranking, ahead of Paul Cézanne and Van Gogh!

Evolution of Picasso’s global position according to his annual auction proceed (Copyright


Chagall seduces Hong Kong and Paris

As Sotheby’s Hong Kong exhibition-sale The Color of Love: The Art of Marc Chagall drew to a close, the results were falling for another event entirely dedicated to the painter: Chagall and Music, hosted by Christie’s Paris. The latter sale offered 50 lots, mainly drawings, prints and studies from the artist’s estate. On the strength of this provenance, some of the prices soared, notably for lithographs that were expected to fetch around 2,000 euros, but which multiplied their estimates by ten. The small pen drawing of an Ange violoniste (1938), very under-estimated at 3,000 euros, fetched 56,700 euros. The best result was hammered for a drawing from 1974 executed on a lithographic base – Rencontre multicolore avec le peintre pour le concert… – which sold for 352,800 euros. Marc CHAGALL’s all-time auction record dates back to 2017 when Les amoureux fetched $28.4 million at Sotheby’s New York, twice its mid-range estimate. Chagall is indeed one of the most sought-after artists of our time: sales of his works generated over $120 million at auction last year, giving him 19th place in our global ranking, just behind Paul Gauguin.

Evolution of Kusama’s record for his sculptures sold at auction (Copyright