It is February, and Sotheby’s presented it second edition of Erotic: Passion & Desire – last year’s sale did fairly well and we knew they would try to capitalize on the success. Of course, they were kind enough to included the following WARNING: Please be advised that this sale includes images of nudity and images of a sexual nature which some viewers may consider indecent. You know what that means … there will be some porn, so keep the kids away!
On top this year were two works: Jacopo Amigoni’s Venus and Adonis (est. £300-500K) and Francis Picabia’s Les Baigneuses, Femmes nues au Bord de la Mer (est. £400-600K) both of which aroused a bit of interest and sold for £489K ($687K). In third, we had Francesco Barzaghi’s Phryne at £477K ($670K – est. £400-600K). Rounding out the top five were two hotly contested works: Gustave Klimt’s Freundinnen (Girlfriends) at £144K ($202K – est. £50-70K) and Albert Penot’s La Femme Chauve-Souris at £138K ($193K – est. £18-25K).
Along with the successes, there were a few big failures: Picasso (£250-350K); Martin (£250-350); Majorelle (£80-120K); Bartholome (£60-80K) and Decoen (£80-120K) all failed to find buyers.
By the time the session ended, of the 89 works offered, 62 (69.6%) found homes and the total take was just £3.7M ($5.2M) … the low end of the presale estimate range was £3.6M – so they needed the buyer’s premium to hit the mark. They always say that sex sells; however, as this sale shows, the ‘sex’ needs to be priced correctly and some of these works were just a bit off the mark.