Sotheby’s dominates the ‘impressionist and modern’ art sales in New York



Sotheby’s managed, as had been hoped, to outpace its competitor Christie’s in the impressionist and modern art sales held on 8 and 9 May 2007, obtaining results which gave it pole position in this round. However, the lead can’t yet be described as significant: $278,548,000 compared with $236,464,000 for sales under the hammer at Rockefeller Plaza.

The overall lead seen this month didn’t, however, prevent Christie’s from achieving sales proving, once again, that this rivalry is benefiting the whole market, with each sale bringing its share of surprises. The Seine as seen by Maximilien LUCE was thus better received at the latter house, with La Seine au pont Saint-Michel selling for $2,500,000, smashing the artist’s previous record. The Seine à Issy, by the same artist, offered by Sotheby’s on York Avenue was unsold. Rockefeller Plaza also set 4 new world price records, of which 3 had been held until now by Sotheby’s; notably, Paul SIGNAC’s L’Arrière du Tub, sold for $10,400,000, some 2 million above the high-end estimate. A spring sale benefited Juan GRISPot de géranium which achieved $16,500,000, some 9 million more than at Sotheby’s five years earlier. Finally, the 1981 sculpture by Joan MIROProjet pour un monument pushed up the bidding until the hammer fell at $8,800,000. The final record at this Plaza sale was none other than Alberto GIACOMETTI‘s L’homme qui chavire whose sale price exceeded the low-end estimate of $6,500,000 by 10 million.

At Sotheby’s, Henri MATISSE’s Gris et Jaune de l’Odalisque did not make the low-end estimate but achieved, nonetheless, a little over $13 million. It was the Paul CÉZANNE watercolour, already estimated at $14 million to $18 million which was, without a doubt, the event’s highlight, achieving a new world record for the artist’s drawings, now set at $22,750,000. Back in 1999, the auction house had already set the record for a work on paper with Danseuse au repos by Edgar DEGAS. Lyonel FEININGER set the house’s second record for this beginning of the month in reaching more than $23 million with his Jesuits IIII.

Despite the buoyancy of the market, a certain sobriety prevailed and the headline lots disappointed. Thus the market leader with his 2004 record of $94,000, saw his Tête d’Arlequin sold for less than the low-end estimate at $13,500,000. In addition, Amedeo MODIGLIANI’s Femme au collier vert estimated at least $12 million to $16 million by Christie’s failed to sell.