Over in London, Sotheby’s offered a selection of works from the Najd Collection – considered to be one of the greatest private collections, particularly of Orientalist works, in the world. In all, there were just 40 works up for grabs, many of which are highly sought-after subjects for the genre… as such, the results were pretty solid.
The top lot came midway through the sale; it was Osman Hamdy Bey’s Koranic Instruction at £3.9M (£4.6M/$6M w/p) on a £3-5M estimate that led the way. That is certainly a solid price for the artist, but given the staggering results from just a few weeks ago at Bonham’s London, I think some had loftier expectations… at the end of September, a small 16 x 20 inch work by Bey brought £6.7M on a mere £600-800K estimate!
Not too far behind was Ludwig Deutsch’s The Tribute, which features multiple figures and is considered to be the artist’s most ambitious composition until that point. This work was expected to bring between £1.5-2.5M, but surpassed that with a hammer price of £3.6M (£4.3M/$5.56M w/p). Interestingly, there is a near-identical painting the artist did under the title The Offering… that work was put up for sale back in 2013 (also through Sotheby’s London), and made just £2.15M (with premiums) at the time.
Rounding out the top three was Market in Jaffa by Gustav Bauernfeind… the large work, completed in 1887, depicts a bustling outdoor market in the daytime. The work was estimated to sell between £2.5-3.5M, and landed perfectly at £3.1M (£3.7M/$4.8M w/p). Additionally, there were a number of lots that performed fairly well… in total, 17 works topped their estimate including those by Charles Wilda (£300K – £80-120K est.), Costa (£312K – £100-150K est.), Goodall (£100K – £30-50K est.), Robertson (£663K – £150-200K est.), and the top outperformer José Benlliure Y Gil with a hammer price nearly 8 times the high estimate (£555K – £50-70K est.).
With that in mind, there were an equal number that went below the estimate (17) – that left them with an accuracy rate of just 15%. Among the underperformers were Bridgman (hammered at £180K on a £300-500K est.), Gérôme (hammered at £450K and £2.2M on a £600-800K and £3-5M est.), Ernst (hammered at £200K on a £300-500K est.), Deutsch (hammered at £550K on a £700K-1M est.). Additionally, a couple of major works failed altogether – a Gérôme carrying a £1.5-2M estimate and a Bridgman sporting a £500-700K estimate.
When the dust settled, just 5 works failed to find a buyer, leaving them with 87.5% sold and a grand total of £26.7M/$34.4M (£32.3M/$43.3M w/p)… going in, Sotheby’s was expecting between £25-38.7M, so they made their mark even without the premiums.