The top artists from the London summer auctions



Sotheby’s and Christie’s held their London Impressionist and Modern Art auctions on 23-24 June. With over 80% lots sold and a turnover of GBP 63 million at two evening sessions, the auctions were encouraging without being spectacular. The three Vincent VAN GOGH put up at Christie’s found a buyer within their estimated ranges. The hammer came down on the most expensive at GBP 3.8 million, an 1890 painting entitled Nature Morte, vase avec œillets. The only real surprise was a painting by Egon SCHIELE which set a new record for the artist, also at Christie’s. Entitled Krumauer Landschaft (Stadt und Fluss), 1916, it found a buyer at GBP 11.3 million.

Highest auctions for this summer sales in LondonSaleAuctioneerHammer price (GBP million)WorkImpressionist & Modern ArtChristie’s3,8Vincent Van Gogh : Nature Morte, vase avec œillets (1890)Sotheby’s11,3Egon Schiele : Krumauer Landschaft (Stadt und Fluss), 1916Contemporary ArtChristie’s1,4Cy Twombly : Untitled (Bolsena) (1974)Sotheby’s1,2Lucio Fontana : Concetto Spaziale, la fine di Dio (1964)Old Master PicturesChristie’s6,2Rembrandt Van Rijn : Self-Portrait with shaded Eyes (1634)Sotheby’s1,3Gaspar Van Wittel : The Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, from the Bacino + The Entrance to the Grand Canal, with the Santa Maria della Salute

As in New York (see ArtMarketInsight, 21 May 2003), the contemporary art lots sold well. Christie’s evening auction turned over GBP 9.3 million, the top bid of the session being for a Cy TWOMBLY painting from 1974, Untitled (Bolsena), which was bought for GBP 1.4 million by an Asian collector. This auction confirms Twombly’s healthy market (see ArtMarketInsight, 11 June 2003). At Sotheby’s on 25 June, 42 of the 49 contemporary art lots on offer found a buyer, among them Lucio FONTANA’s Concetto Spaziale, la fine di Dio, which sold for an excellent GBP 1.23 million. Fontana’s index has risen uninterruptedly since 1997 and his overall price has doubled during this period.

There was no headline-grabbing sale to match Massacre des Innocents by Peter Paul RUBENS(see ArtMarketInsight, 16 July 2002) at last year’s Old Masters auction. This year, Sotheby’s most keenly awaited lot was a self-portrait of REMBRANDT VAN RIJN estimated at GBP 4-6 million, finally acquired by Stephen Wynn for GBP 6.2 million. But this was still way below the GBP 18 million paid for Portrait of a Lady, Aged 62 (Perhaps Aeltje Pieterdr. Uylenburgh) by the same artist in December 2000. At Christie’s, the highest bid was for a lot of two paintings by Gaspar van Wittel: GBP 1.3 million for lot 113, the last of the auction, which had been estimated at GBP 500,000-800,000.