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Get ’em while they’re fresh – Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern (and Surrealist) – London

March 18, 2019

On February 26th, Sotheby’s hosted a pair of back-to-back evening sales featuring Impressionist & Modern works as well as a selection Surrealist works. While the top three lots all came from the Impressionist & Modern offerings, I’ll give the overall results for ease when comparing with their counterpart, Christie’s, who offered works from the same period the following evening.

Monet

At Sotheby’s, the top lot of the bunch was Claude Monet’s Venice scene, Le Palais Ducal, which sold for £27.5M ($36.2M) on a £20-30M estimate ($26.2-39.4M). The work was put up for sale by the family of Erich Goertiz, a Berlin-based textile manufacturer in the early 1900s… Goeritz initially purchased the work in 1925 and it has been handed down from generation to generation since, never being offered at auction. Monet only visited Venice once in his life, and on that trip he produced 40 works of art… prior to this sale, the most his most expensive Venetian scene was Le Grand Canal, which sold in 2015 for £23.6M.

Schiele

Taking second was an unusual Egon Schiele… Triestiner Fischerboot was completed in 1912 when the artist visited an Italian port after being exiled from his home in Austria – considered to be the most tumultuous and life-changing experience the artist endured. This particular work was first purchased in 1914 and last changed hands in 1962 for an undisclosed sum… it has remained in a private collection since. Now up for auction for the first time, the work handily surpassed it’s £6-8M ($7.8-10.5M) estimate as it found a buyer for £10.6M ($14M).

Kandinsky

Rounding out the top three was Kandinsky’s Vertiefte Regung, which actually hammered around £5.1M… it was estimated at £5.5-7.5M, so this one fell a bit short… once we add in the buyer’s premium that bumps it to a much nicer sounding £6.09M ($8M). The work was accompanied by provenance dating back to the artist, though it has changed hands quite a few times… recently, it sold in 2010 through Sotheby’s New York, where it found a buyer at $5.6M on a $4.5-6.5 estimate and then again in 2015, again at Sotheby’s New York, for $6.4M on a $6-8M estimate. While this time around, the lot fell a bit short, I think the seller could walk away happy with a quick little profit.

Filling in the top 10 of the night, we found works by Magritte (£5.3M – Est. £3.5-4.5M); Kirchner (£3.8M – Est. £2.8-3.8M); Picabia (£3.7M – Est. £1.5-2M); Giacometti (£3.2M – Est. £1.8-2.5M); Degas (£3.01M – Est. £1.5-2.5M); and Picasso (£2.1M – Est. £1.6-2.5M). As always, there were a few lots that failed to garner significant interest and went unsold… those included works by Feininger (£4-6M); Jawlensky (£800K-1.2M); Schiele (£1-1.5M); and Picasso (£1.6-2.4M).

Of the 39 works offered between the two sales, Sotheby’s found buyers for 32 of them, yielding an 82% sell through rate and a total take of £87.7M ($115.3M – Est. 62.1-89.3M).

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