Tonight, the auction action began in London at Christie’s and unlike some previous sales, there were no blockbuster ($50, $80 or $100 million) works. The first 9 lots all did very well … selling either within or well above their estimate range. Then lot 10 appeared, a rather unimpressive Braque still life which carried a £500-800K estimate and failed to find a buyer — not too much of a surprise — and a couple of lot later there was another falter – a Schwitters’ sculpture (est. £700-1M). But these initial works were just the warm-up for the evening’s main events … which appeared a few lots later.
Taking the top slot of the night was Pablo Picasso’s Mousquetaire et nu assis which brought £13.7M ($19M, est. £12-18M). Coming in second was Degas’ Dans les coulisses at £8.99M ($12.3M, est. £8-12M) and in third we had a Monet tie when his Prairie à Giverny (est. £7-10M) and Vétheuil (est. £4-6M) each brought £7.55M ($10.4M) … personally, I preferred the latter.
The balance of the evening had its ups (Kandinsky, more Monets, Heckel, etc.) and downs (Matisse, Derain, Dongen, etc), but overall the sale seemed to hold its own with many of the lots selling within or slightly above their estimate range. By the end of the evening, 65 works were offered, 51 (78.5%) sold, for a total take of £114M ($158M). The low end of their estimate range was £99.5M, so they made it with the buyer’s premium added in. It wasn’t a sizzling sale, but the good works made solid prices and sparked competition.
As we have seen in previous sales, Picasso was their go-to guy with 9 works featured (14%). The lower end of their combined estimate range was £13.4M ($18.6M) and all sold for a total of £26.3M ($36.4M) … now we can see why he is their go-to! Tomorrow we have Sotheby’s sale and they are also betting on Picasso.