At the end of June, Sotheby’s offered a selection of American paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. As you will soon see, the sale performed reasonably well. (w/p = with buyer’s premium)
Taking the top spot was Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln), which carried a $600-900K estimate and sold for $1.3M ($1.58M w/p). What I did find interesting is that the work is a posthumous cast (done after the artist died). In a press release about the sale, Sotheby’s notes: Beginning in 1910, the artist’s widow, Augusta, authorized the casting of commercial-sized reductions of the original monument. The reductions of Lincoln: The Man, of which the present work is one, stand at 40 ½ inches high and were cast in an edition of approximately 17. I always find it interesting that people will pay high prices for works an artist never put their hands on.
The second-highest price – $850K ($1.04M w/p) – was achieved by Thomas Hart Benton’s Noon — it carried an estimate of $700-1M. So this one hammered within the range. In third, they had Milton Avery’s Mandolin with Pears, which was estimated to bring $500-700K and hammered for $600K ($740K w/p). Rounding out the top five were Mary Cassatt’s Mother in Purple Holding Her Child that brought $450K ($560K w/p – est. $400-600K) and an early (before abstraction) Jackson Pollock – Landscape with White Horse – that made $380K ($475 w/p – est. $150-250K). I thought some of you would enjoy seeing what an early Pollock looks like, so we included an image.
There were a few works that failed to find buyers… among them were Jamie Wyeth’s The Thief (est. $400-600K) and his Surf Watchers ($250-350K), N.C. Wyeth’s Ayrton’s Fight with the Pirates ($200-300K), Childe Hassam’s Promenade – Winter in New York (est. $400-600K), and the most expensive, Dennis Miller Bunker’s A Winter’s Tale of Sprites and Goblins (est. $700-1M).
Initially, the sale consisted of 51 works, but it seems that 3 were withdrawn before they came up. Of the 48 works offered, 36 sold, giving them a sell-through rate of 75% – not too bad – and the total take was $9.1M w/p … the presale estimate range was $7.998 – $12M; so they fell into the range with the buyer’s premium.