Thursday, May 18, 2017

Big Doings In Art: Sotheby's Hammers Down $173 Million For Impressionist & Modern In New York; Christie's $448 Mil for Postwar

I put Sotheby's first because otherwise I might succumb to the temptation to pretend this never happened:

Prop Bet: Mo Money Monet
Wanna bet this pretty picture goes for more than the quoted range despite the stamped signature?

From Art Market Monitor, April 24:

Sotheby’s $14m Monet Nymphéas Up in May
 Claude Monet Le Bassin aux nymphéas Oil on canvas 38¼ by 51⅛ in. Painted circa 1917-20. Est. $14/18 million

Here's artnet:
...On Tuesday evening, the number-two lot was Monet’s Le Bassin Aux Nymphea, a painting of the lily pond at his Giverny estate, which hammered for $16 million after just a minute of bidding. Dating circa 1917–1920, the canvas last came up for auction in November 1989, when it hammered for $3.9 million, according to the artnet Price Database. It was guaranteed to sell on Tuesday by an irrevocable bid with a third party, which allowed the buyer to offer the canvas with confidence....
The exact mid-point of the range. I failed you.
Anyhoo, over to Artnews:

Christie’s Soars With Airtight, High-Grossing $448.1 M. Post-War and Contemporary Sale, Selling $52.9 M. Twombly, $51.8 M. Bacon its biggest Post-War and Contemporary sale in years, Christie’s sold all but three of its 71 lots on offer en route to a well-calibrated $448.1 million sale in New York Wednesday night, eschewing flashy fireworks in favor of cutting the fat and ably finding buyers for works. The sell-through rate by lot was 96 percent, remarkably solid for a overstuffed sale, and the sell-through rate by value was nearly perfect at 99 percent.

“If we needed a proof of the strength of the art market, we have it, and if we needed proof of the strength of Christie’s, we have it,” said Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti in the press conference after the sale.

Cerutti is weathering his first New York sales week as chief executive, after a shake-up at the top of the ranks last December put him at the helm, and the results should quell any uneasiness about his leadership. While the anchoring lots may not have gone too far past their low estimates—and despite the surprising withdrawal of a Willem de Kooning that was estimated to go for between $25 million and $35 million—the number of blockbusters was more than enough to best last November’s Post-War and Contemporary total by more than $170 million, and nearly reached the high estimate of $462 million.
(That’s slightly lower than the $500 million high estimate previously put out by the house, due to the withdrawal of the de Kooning as well as the loss of a work by Bruce Nauman estimated to sell for between $2 million and $3 million)....MORE
Despite the lower total, due in part to a lack of blockbuster lots among the offerings, Sotheby's sounded happy with some individual results:
We'll be back with more but in the meantime today's ProTip: if you visit the auction houses the subsequent  ads  that follow you around the internet will be more palatable than the usual fare.