Sun, Feb 15, 2015

Art & Auctions
Sotheby’s sets London record

A Sotheby’s sale of impressionist, modern and surrealist art fetched $280.18 million, setting a new record as the highest total for any auction in any category ever held in London.

“Building on the momentum of Sotheby’s record Impressionist & Modern art sales last year, we’re delighted to launch the first sale season of 2015 with a new high for art auctions in London – the highest sale total ever achieved in any category,” said Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Co-Head, Impressionist & Modern Art Worldwide.

“Broadening the international reach, we saw an all-time high of 35 countries participating in this field, and collectors from Asia and Russia asserting themselves as a continued force in the market. Undoubtedly it was a great night for Monet, yet we also saw significant depth of bidding right across the sale. The success of the auction reflects the outstanding quality of the exceptionally rare, museum-quality works offered.” 

The February 3 evening sale in the UK capital saw 85.33 per cent sold by lot, and five auction records set, led by Étude pour une baignade, Asnières that brought a new auction record for a work on paper by Seurat when it sold for $11.67 million. 

The drawing relates to one of Seurat’s greatest paintings, Une baignade, Asnières from 1883-1884, which hangs in the National Gallery, London. 

Works on paper performed exceptionally well throughout the night, with ten pieces together bringing £22.11 million ($34.03 million), well above their £14.6 million ($22.48 million) high estimate. 

The sales were led by a stunning offering of five works by Claude Monet all of which sold, together totalling $83.76 million.

Le Grand Canal from Monet’s celebrated Venice series of 1908 led the auctions, achieving $35.57 million.

From the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and on offer for the first time at auction, Les Peupliers à Giverny fetched $16.21 million. 

Matisse’s exquisite portrait Odalisque au fauteuil noir sold for $23.79 million, surpassing its high estimate of $18.48 million. The work depicts Princess Nézy-Hamidé Chawkat, the great granddaughter of the last Sultan of Turkey 

Toulouse-Lautrec’s Au Lit, Le Baiser from 1892 brought $16.21 million, the second-highest price for the artist at auction. The work had never been offered at auction, and had not been exhibited publicly for more than four decades. 

Top-tier pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec are exceptionally rare on the market – only three works by the artist have ever appeared at auction estimated at this level.

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