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Christie’s American Art – A Nice Finish

November 29, 2018

Georgia O’Keeffe’s The Red Maple at Lake George

The final sale we will cover this month is Christie’s American Art that took place on November 20th … thankfully, they waited until the week after the chaos to present it.  In addition, they took one painting that should have been offered in this sale and sold it in the Contemporary evening sale – O’Keeffe’s Sky with Moon (et. $3-5M) which made $3.6M with the commission (w/c).  So, while it was not a big loss for the actual American sale, I still feel they undercut this sale.  Also, there was a Cassatt that they sold in the Impressionist sale, but her work can go either way.


Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Door with Snow

Taking the top spot was Georgia O’Keeffe’s The Red Maple at Lake George that brought $8.19M w/c on a $7-10M estimate.  The painting first hit the public market back in 1987 and sold for $770K (est. $250-350K); then surfaced again in 2004 and sold for $2.19M (est. $600-800K) … not a bad return.  In second was another O’Keeffe – Black Door with Snow.  This painting, from the estate of Eugene Thaw, carried a $1-1.5M estimate and sold, with commission, for $3.07M.  Third place was nabbed by Maxfield Parrish’s A Venetian Night’s Entertainment… that achieved $2.05M w/c (est. $1-1.5M).  I should point out that had they sold O’Keeffe’s Sky with Moon in this sale, this lovely lady’s work would have been one, two and three.  Rounding out the top five were Childe Hassam’s The El, New York… at $1.27M (est. $500-700K), and Marsden Hartley’s Landscape with Single Cloud at $877K (est. $500-700K).


Maxfield Parrish’s A Venetian Night’s Entertainment…

Among the works that failed to generate interest were Hassam’s A Wet Day (est. $600-800K); Church’s On Otter Creek (est. $400-600K); Twachman’s Cos Cob (est. $200-300K) and Avery’s Straw Hat (est. $150-250K).  So from the looks of it, most of the bigger ticket items sold. In addition, there were some very impressive prices (based on the estimate ranges they were given) – Gifford’s White Mountain Scenery made $433K (est. $150-250K); Johnson’s The Natural Bridge of Virginia brought $457K (est. $100-150K); Bierstadt’s Horse in an Indian Encampment garnered $213K (est. $60-80K), and Jacob Lawrence’s Letter from Home hit $637K (est. $250-350K).

By the end of the session, of the 76 lots offered, 62 sold (82.7% sell-through), and the total achieved was $26.49M w/c … the low end of their estimate range was $19.08M, so it was a respectable sale.  Of the 62 sold lots, 20 were below, 22 within, and 20 above their presale estimate ranges, which left them with an accuracy rate of 35.4% — not too shabby. Ultimately, this sale displayed strength at all levels of the American market.