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Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Day Sale

December 10, 2020
young boy painitng at an easle


At the end of last week, Christie’s New York presented an Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale, and I don’t think it went as well as they had hoped it would.  First of all, it was their 14th sale of the month and it was only December 4th; secondly, it was their second Impressionist and Modern-Day Sale in just two months…you think it’s just a little too much for potential buyers??

Multi colored man's face


The top lot was a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir title Le petit peintre (Claude Renoir); it was estimated at $600 -900K and it just squeaked by the estimate when it hammered for $960K ($1.182M w/p).  Now I am sure the consignor was happy it made a little more than the estimate, but when I did a little further research, I saw that the last time it sold was at Sotheby’s in 1988 for $3.2M, so maybe the consignor wasn’t so happy after all.  Next was a work by Pablo Picasso titled Buste d’homme a la cigarette; a work on paper that sold for $820K ($1.014M w/p) on a $1 -1.5M estimate, so it needed the commission to just make the low end of the estimate. And rounding out the top three, was a work by Alfred Kubin titled Der letzte König that was estimated to make $400-600K and just beat the low estimate when it hammered at $420K ($525K w/p).

Drawing of a King on a throne


Unfortunately, there were some major failures which led to the overall poor performance of the sale. First was a painting by Pierre Bonnard titled Raisins noirs et peches ou Panier de fruits that was estimated at $400-600K; it last sold in May 2001 for $885,750.  Also estimated at $400-600K was a work by Randolf Bauer titled Andante 3 – it failed to find a new home and was last sold in 2013 for $382K.  Another miss was a group of 68 miniature replicas and color reproductions in a leather case by Marcel Duchamps; it was also estimated at $400-600K and found no buyer.  A work by Marc Chagall titled Couple au Bouquet didn’t make it across the finish line with an estimate of  $350 -550K.  And lastly, two works by Salvador Dali didn’t make the cut either – Narcisse jeune endormi was estimated at $300-500K (sold in 2013 for $148.3K) and Projets de rideaux de scène et études préliminaires dit aussi “Grand dessin” which was estimated to bring $350-450K (last sold in 2007 for $360K).

Of the 132 works offered, 51 works were unsold, so just 61.4 % found new homes.  Of the works that found buyers… 18 were above the estimate, 29 were below and 34 were within.  The sale was estimated to make $14 – 19.9M and when all was done it only totaled $9.5M ($10.23M w/p), so it did not come close to the low estimate.