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Christie’s American Art Sale

November 19, 2021

As Christie’s New York auction extravaganza comes to a close, the last to cross the auction block was their 20th Century American Art sale, and I would say it went out in style.

Top Lots

sunset with red house

Arthur Dove

Taking the top spot in the American Art sale was Sunset by Arthur Dove (considered the first American abstract artist); it sold for more than double the high estimate when it hammered down at $6.5M ($7.8M w/p – est. $2 -3M). In second place was Thomas Hart Benton’s Keith Farm, Chilmark that made $4M ($4.83Mamerican w/p), doubling the low estimate of $2-3M. And rounding out the top three was a work by Paul Cadmus titled Lloyd and Barbara Wescott; the estimate of $300- 500K was left in the dust as the painting fetched $2M ($2.43M w/p)!

Strong Performers

abstract landscape - American Art

Wolf Kahn

A few additional lots performed well… George Copeland Ault’s The Plough and the Moon, which was estimated to make $120 -180K and sold for $550K ($688K w/p). Jacob Lawrence had a strong result for his Builders – 19 Men;  estimated to make $100 -150K, it hammered down at $520K ($650K w/p). And two paintings by Wolf Kahn far exceeded their estimates; each was expected to bring $25-35K. Atlantic Highlands sold for $170K ($212K w/p) and Looking Up-River garnered $150K ($187.5K w/p).

Last Impressions

There were 78 works offered in the American Art sale, of which 66 sold and 12 were bought-in, for a sell-through rate of 84.6%. The accuracy rate of the estimates was a dismal 16.6%; of the works that sold, 20 fell below, 13 were within, and 33 pieces sold for more than the estimate. In the end, the results were strong as the pre-sale estimate range was $17.2 – 25.8M, and when the final hammer fell, the sale generated $23.6M ($28.9M w/p); a successful sale!