Last night, Christie’s offered up a selection of Impressionist and Modern works at their bi-annual evening sale in New York. As always, the evening sale featured an assortment of top-level works; many of which achieved huge prices!
Taking the top lot on the evening, as expected, was Cezanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, which found a buyer at $52 million ($59.2M with premium – w/p) on an accurate $40-60M estimate. This work featured provenance almost all the way back to the artist himself but more interestingly, the provenance revealed the work was stolen and missing for more than two decades! After it’s recovery in 1999, the work was put up for sale at Sotheby’s London, where it was acquired by the current seller for $29.4M… that is quite a profit. A small, but vibrant Van Gogh nabbed second at $35 million ($40M w/p), and while the estimate was not published, we’ve learned they were expecting it to sell ‘in excess of $20M’ so I’m sure the seller was pleasantly surprised with the result. Rounding out the top three on the evening was Modigliani’s sculpture Tete at $30M ($34.3M w/p). The work last changed hands fairly recently in 2010 for an undisclosed sum… this time around, they were expecting it to sell between $30-40M so they just hit that mark.
There were a number of other impressive results from the evening… A ‘masterwork’ by Balthus featuring Therese, a model he frequently painted, found a buyer at the top end of its $12-18M estimate range – $19M w/p. A handful of works breached the $20M level… Modigliani’s Lunia Czechowska at $25.2M (est. $12-18M), Monet’s Coin du basin aux nympheas at $21.8 (est. $15-25M) and Picasso’s La Lettre at $25.2M (est. $20-30M). All that said, the big surprise on the evening was a work by Pierre Bonnard, which was only projected to bring between $5-8M but ended up climbing all the way to $19.5M!
On the other hand, there were several failures, though nothing too catastrophic… in all, there were 9 unsold works, which works out to about 85% sold. Those unsold lots were only expected to bring in another $14.95-27.8M combined, so the equivalent of one major failure. Altogether, the sale achieved a total of $399M (est. $287.5-419.8M)… an excellent way to start this lively week of sales.