Sotheby’s London Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art totalled £105,939,000/ $165,932,256 / €123,789,394, exceeding its pre-sale high estimate of £74-104 million.
The sale was characterised by broad participation from bidders across 33 different countries on the telephones, in the saleroom and online, and saw a record number of participants from Asia in a London Impressionist sale. Four auction records were established and the sale was 81.7% sold by lot.
Christie’s had a white-glove sale for Picasso ceramics in London:
Christie’s Picasso Ceramics auction on 18 June 2013 realised £2,845,750 / $4,459,290 / €3,340,911, selling 100 percent of the 171 lots on offer. This Picasso Ceramics sale was the first annual sale in the category, which follows the success of the Madoura Collection of Picasso Ceramics in 2012.
The top lot in the sale was an exquisite solid gold platter, which sold for £193,875/ $303,802 / €227,609, against a pre-sale estimate of £100,000 – 150,000. Never before seen on the market, this stunning plate weighs over 2.5kg and is made from 22 carat gold.
The art market media has intensified its focus on the resale value of Impressionist and Modern art this week with Christie’s evening sale provoking much market measuring.
Judd Tully has the story on the sale’s most expensive lot, a Kandinsky, including a tantalizing comment from the buyer’s representative:
“Studie zu Improvisation 3” (1909) […] sold to seasoned Zurich dealer Beda Jedlicka of J&P Fine Art for £13,501875 ($21,157,438) (est. £12-16 million). […] The Nahmads acquired the exceptionally rare Kandinsky, depicting a figure mounted on a turquoise-colored horse, at Christie’s New York back in November 2008 for $16,882,500, precisely at the moment the art market crashed in the wake of the world financial crisis. “My client is too young to remember those days,” said Jedlicka as he exited the salesroom. “The world has changed and the market is hot now.”
Carol Vogel begins with Modigliani’s portrait of Paul Guillaume and follows with a late Picasso:
A familiar image to seasoned auction goers, the painting had been at auction three times in 17 years, first at Christie’s in 1996, when the Las Vegas casino owner Stephen A. Wynn bought it for $3.4 million, and then at Sotheby’s in New York in 2000 for $4.6 million. In 2006 the Nahmads bought it for $4.8 million, just below its $5 million low estimate. This time around Christie’s had expected it to bring $7.6 million to $11 million. Representatives from the Hammer Galleries in New York bought it for $10.6 million.
“Femme Assise dans un Fauteuil,’’ a 1960 portrait of the artist’s wife Jacqueline Roque was expected to fetch $6.1 million to $9 million. It had last been on the market at Sotheby’s in New York in 2006 where it sold for $6.7 million. John Lumley, vice-chairman of Christie’s in Europe, could be seen bidding on behalf of the New York dealer William Acquavella who ended up paying $9.5 million for the painting.
Mary Lane points to the market support of Chinese buyers:
Asian collectors once again showed up in force at the sale, buoying bidding for several midrange works by Picasso and others. A Chinese-speaking telephone bidder won a 1970 work on paper by Pablo Picasso for $755,000. The same bidder also won a 1943 Giorgio Morandi oil painting of several jugs for $1 million.
Jay Vincze, head of the Impressionist and Modern department in London, hailed the extremely healthy Asian participation. “We’re not talking hundreds of Asian people, but season after season the incremental increase in interest has been huge,”he said.
Christie’s London Auction Brings Modest Art and Modest Sales (Arts Beat/NYTimes)
Christie’s Sale is Solid, Lacks Sizzle (Wall Street Journal)
The New York Post reports that Sotheby’s is exploring its real estate options by selling their headquarters on New York’s Upper East Side and leasing it back. The international auction house may be looking to get space in one of the city’s newer developments downtown:
“They want to do a short-term leaseback between three and five years,” said one source.
Sotheby’s has hired Peter Riguardi, local head of Jones Lang LaSalle, and colleague Alexander Chudnoff to find it another location. That could include a more contemporary central Midtown or even Hudson Yards-area spot like the Manhattan West site that JLL is representing.
“Given the location of our building, the current real estate market, the unsolicited interest we’ve received in our property and our responsibility to our shareholders, we are exploring our options,” Sotheby’s spokesman Andrew Gully said.
Bloomberg teases out the meaning of the surprise $8.4m sale of Ferdinand Hodler’s painting earlier this month. The work’s success is part of a discovery of Swiss art as a corner of the market with promise for collectors. With just the right combination of local wealth, bourgeois and avant-garde artistic traditions and troves of work held in private hands, Swiss art is seeing strong demand from foreign buyers who now make up 25% at both auction houses:
The country’s position is bolstered by the large art collections held by Swiss families, according to Hans-Peter Keller, head of the Swiss art department at Christie’s. “This has made Switzerland into a big treasure chest,” Keller said. Millionaire households make up about 12 percent of the total in Switzerland, the second-highest proportion after Qatar,Boston Consulting Group said in a May 30 study.
That doesn’t mean the locals have abandoned their cultural patrimony:
“I just love Hodler’s landscape paintings and Anker’s portraits,”Christoph Blocher, a billionaire collector and former Justice Minister who owns 280 works of Swiss art, said by telephone. “I didn’t think about them as an investment at first — that only started when prices started to rise.”
In an interview with the Financial Times, Steven Murphy explains the value of the firm’s internet strategy lies in more than just raw revenue:
“We have moved from seven online [only] auctions in 2012 to 50 online [only] auctions in 2013, and we average between 45 per cent and 75 per cent of the successful buyers are individuals new to Christie’s,” he says.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s deepen rivalry ahead of art sales (Financial Times)
The Financial Times offers some interesting numbers on the global art market. China’s sales volume dropped 50% in the first three months of this year, according to the French Conseil des Ventes. And yet, the FT projects the two leading Chinese auction houses are seeing strong growth:
Artnet figures for the period January 1 to May 31 2013 show that Poly’s sales are up 213 per cent, selling $93.8m so far this year. China Guardian’s sales are up 47.4 per cent to $369.6m in the same period.
Are Poly and China Guardian gaining at the expense of others or is that 50% drop in value not year-over-year? Either way, the numbers are curious. The Conseil des Ventes report comes out this month. Perhaps a more detailed explanation will emerge.
Chinese contenders pose challenges as they gain status (Financial Times)
Excellent reporting by Dan Duray on GalleristNY reveals the lawsuit between art printer, Robert Blanton of Brand X, who developed a monoprint technique that had to convince Christopher Wool to try out by cutting an unorthodox deal that would eventually backfire into a lawsuit against the artist and his gallery:
Brand X alleges that Mr. Wool wasn’t sure how the monoprints would turn out and consequently entered into an agreement (over e-mail) whereby Brand X would finance their production in exchange for one-third, or 20, of the finished products. Mr. Wool and Luhring Augustine would then split the remaining 40, according to the complaint’s description of the agreement.
The complaint then describes the production process during which, it alleges, Mr. Wool and the gallery came to realize the works may be more valuable than they’d previously thought. It says that a gallery representative stopped by the Brand X studio and called the prints “beautiful,” adding that they “look like candy.”
Mr. Wool allegedly then tried to talk Brand X into accepting only one-quarter of the works, and then asked to pay for the production costs in exchange for all of them. Brand X refused, and work on the series stopped at 34 monoprints, which the complaint says Mr. Wool now refuses to sign.
Christopher Wool, Luhring Augustine Sued for $12 M. (GalleristNY)
Here’s what the press release says. Top ten and gainers to follow shortly.
The Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale took place on the evening of 18 June at Christie’s London, realising £64,076,575/ $100,407,993/ €75,225,899 and selling 84% by lot and 87% by value. The auction had a pre-sale estimate of £52,830,000 to £75,800,000. The top price was paid for Wassily Kandinsky’s rare Expressionist masterpiece Studie zu Improvisation 3, 1909, which sold for £13,501,875/ $21,157,438 /€15,851,201 (estimate: £12-16 million, pictured above). In total, 18 works of art sold for over £1 million / 22 for over $1 million, and two artist records were set: for a work by Eugène Boudin and a record for a painting by Constantin Brancusi.
His art collection includes works by Cy Twombly, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso, Lucio Fontana and Alberto Giacometti.
Looser applied the same tenacity to collecting that he brought to business, buying works by U.S. artists who were under-represented in European museums and spending between $500,000 and $1 million per work. Last year he agreed to lend 70 pieces to the Zurich Kunsthaus on permanent loan. An exhibition, “The Hubert Looser Collection,” runs through Sept. 8.
“I wanted to buy art in the top league and transform my money into art,” he says. “I only wanted museum quality art. I bought one or two works a year. I put quality before quantity. I did a lot of work to make sure I didn’t make mistakes.”