The onslaught continues, and this week, Sotheby’s presented their Rembrandt to Richter sale … a mash-up of pricier works from Old Master to Contemporary. I, for one, have never been a fan of this type of sale, especially when you go to the viewing and see a Picasso sitting next to a Rubens. Yes, both were exceptional artists, but their styles are so different that, at times, it hurts the eye. I will say that since there are no physical viewings right now, the juxtaposition of these very different works is less troubling. (w/p = with the buyer’s premium)
Taking the number one spot was Joan Miro’s Peinture (Femme au Chapeau Rouge) that carried a £20-30M estimate and sold for £19,406,620/$25.03M (£22,302,140/$28.8M w/p) – I assume these wacky numbers are because the guarantor purchased the work (so they were afforded a bit of a discount). Oh, in case you are wondering, the seller was billionaire Ronald Perelman. In second, and at the other end of the art history spectrum, was Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait of the Artist… which made £12.6M/$16.3M (£14.55M/$18.77M w/p – est. £12-16M). I was told that the painting had some condition issues, but I guess the fact that this was only one of three self-portraits still in private hands, overshadowed that. The third spot was taken by Fernand Leger’s Nature Morte at £10.5M/$13.55M (£12.16M/$15.7M w/p) falling comfortably inside its £8 – 12M estimate. Rounding out the top five were Giacometti’s Femme Debout at £9.2M/$11.9M (£10.68M/$13.8M – est. £4-6M), and Gerhard Richter’s Clouds (Window) at £9M/$11.6M (£10.5M /$13.5M w/p – est. £9 – 12M).
The most interesting thing about these online sales is the ability to withdraw lots just before, or even during, a sale. In all, six works were pulled, including Francis Bacon’s Study for a Portrait of John Edwards, which was expected to bring in excess of £12M, and Gustave Bauernfeind’s Jerusalem, From the Mount of Olives at Sunrise that was estimated at £3-4M. I guess that helps make the sell-through rate a lot stronger!
By the end of the show (and it was a show), of the 65 works offered, just three failed to find buyers (Sigmar Polke’s After Dali, Giacometti’s Figurine, and Louise Bourgeois Arched Figure). This gave them a sell-through rate of 95%, and the total take was £126.34M/$163M (£149.7M/$193M – w/p) against a presale estimate range of £111-159M. Of the 62 sold works, 2 were below, 25 within, and 26 above their estimate ranges, leaving them with an overall accuracy rate of 40.3% … somewhat respectable. I am sure that the seller’s whose works eclipsed their ranges were pretty happy.