This past Tuesday, April 26th, Christie’s hosted a post-war and contemporary art sale at their seldom-used Amsterdam saleroom. While watching the sale, it was fascinating to see interest fluctuate so greatly from lot to lot. Either a work sold dramatically over its estimate, or disappointingly fell short of its estimate. It certainly kept me on my toes while watching. The top lot, for example, was Paesaggio rosso, or Red Landscape, an oil and chalk on canvas work from 1952 by the post-war Italian Afro Basaldella. Christie’s originally estimated it to sell for €40K to €60K, which is not too bad for a decently-sized abstract work. It eventually sold for €240K / $255.6K (or €302.4K / $322.1K w/p), four times its high estimate. It only became the top lot because the work most highly valued by Christie’s specialists, a Georg Baselitz oil painting entitled Hundekopf, went unsold. It was estimated to go for anywhere between €300K and €500K, and certainly would have surpassed everything else if more interest had been shown for it.
The other top lots at the sale fell within their estimates: Karel Appel’s 1958 oil on canvas work Têtes Volantes hit its high estimate when it sold for €180K / $191.7K (or €226.8K / $241.6K w/p). Meanwhile, the Danish painter Per Kirkeby appeared with his works entitled Dameforløb. Model Dorte: a 48-by-80-inch piece of masonite with silver paint, acrylic, enamel, graphite, ink, and metal. It also fell within its original pre-sale estimate of €100K to €150K, with the hammer coming down at €140K / €149.1K (or €176.4K / $187.9K w/p).
Though Baselitz failed to get the top lot like Christie’s specialists expected, another of his works, a linoleum and asphalt on paper piece called Flasche, surprised buyers when it sold for €15K / $15.98K (or €18.9K / $20.1K). It was originally estimated to go for anywhere between €1.5K and €2K. Similarly, the American abstract painter Kyle Morris had his name on some people’s minds because of his 1959 oil painting Thrust. It sold for €42K / $44.7K (or €52.9K / $56.4K w/p), seven times its €6K high estimate.
Overall, it was a well-balanced sale. Out of one hundred twenty-three available lots, thirty-eight fell within their estimates, while thirty-six fell short and thirty-four exceeded them. Fifteen lots, including the Baselitz work as the highest-valued lot, went unsold. The entire sale fell within the pre-sale estimate between €1.99M and €2.98M, reaching €2.24M (or $2.38M).