The major London sales



Impressionist and Modern
On 19 and 20 June 2012, Christie’s and Sotheby’s will be holding their evening sales of Impressionist and Modern Art, followed, the day after, by sales of more affordable works from the same periods. At the prestigious evening sales, the best signatures of Western art (Vincent VAN GOGH, Claude MONET, Wassily KANDINSKY, Pablo PICASSO, René MAGRITTE, Fernand LÉGER, etc.) have been mobilized for a high-estimate revenue total of around £227 million. Recall that last year’s June sales generated more than £207 million compared with £233 million in 2010, £61.5 million in 2009 and £246 million at the 2008 peak.

While the big sales of Impressionist and Modern art in London in 2011 betted mainly on Pablo Picasso, Egon SCHIELE, Claude Monet and Alberto GIACOMETTI, the 2012 sales are relying on two masterpieces: a superb painting by Joan Miro from the heart of the surrealist period at Sotheby’s and an archetypal Bather by Pierre-Auguste RENOIR at Christie’s. These two works have already been sold at auction, and in line with the permanent increase in prices, the announced estimates promise better results.

Sotheby’s will be holding its major sale of Post-War & Modern Art on June 19, 2012, with individual estimates ranging from £120,000 to £20 million … with the maximum expected for a Miro work that was much more affordable in France than it is now in London.

A new record expected for Joan Miro
Much of Sotheby’s estimated sales total depends on Joan MIRO‘s the Blue Star, a work dated 1927, and estimated between £15m and £20m.
Sotheby’s is hoping to beat its rival Christie’s freshly signed Miro record of £15 million (February 7, 2012) for Painting Poem (Le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil. If Blue Star reaches its low estimate on June 19, it will have doubled its value in five years since the auctioneer Aguttes in Paris sold the same work (from the André Lefèvre collection) for the equivalent of £6.7 million (Blue Star, € 9.35m, December 21, 2007).

Sotheby’s will also be offering a work by Edvard MUNCH, the artist who set a new world record for an artwork at auction with a pastel version of The Scream ($107m, May 2, 2012). The painting, dated 1916, is entitled Young woman sitting (Sittende Ung Kvinne) and is estimated £2.5m – $3.5m. If it sells, it will join his top 10 auction results for paintings. The resale of Claude Monet’s The Seine at Bougival provides an opportunity to acquire the work at around its low estimate of £2.2m, which is £800,000 more than it fetched in May 2006 (Christie’s NY). There is also a profile of a woman by Vincent Van Gogh’s painted between 1884 and 1885. The work is carrying an estimate of £950,000 – £1.2m. In 2007, it fetched £502,000 excluding fees (Peasant Woman, Head, 10 May 2007 at Christie’s).

A historic Renoir
Christie’s has selected 71 lots with an estimated total price range of £86.5 – £126.7 million. The highlight of the sale is a splendid Renoir Bather (1888) carrying an estimate of £12 – £18 million ($18.5 – $27.8 million). This is a conservative estimate because this same Bather fetched $19m (£11.1m) in 1997. On the basis of the low estimate, the Bather will have accreted in value by just 8% between 1997 and 2012, whereas Renoir’s general price index shows a 14% increase over this period. If it reaches its high estimate, it will become the artist’s second best-ever auction result. The work does indeed have all the necessary qualifications: a favourite Renoir theme, the work was exhibited in the year of its creation by the art dealer Durand-Ruel and its pictorial qualities are exceptional with a subtle blend of vibrant light and a particularly delicate palette of colours.
Besides this painting by Renoir, Christie’s is also offering 14 works by Edgar Degas, 7 by René Magritte, 4 by Picasso, and 3 each by by Miro, Kandinsky and Monet.