30 déc. 2007

Art auction tracking : Francis Bacon, van Dongen, Chippendale, &c, and an exhibition of Bernar Venet


On Jan. 24, Sotheby's New York auctions important old paintings and art, with some twenty estimates in the million $ range, for Titian (SOLD 4 M$ before fees), Riemenschneider (SOLD 5.6 M$ before fees), the Brueghels (UNSOLD), Cranach (SOLD 4.5 and 3.6 M$ before fees), Tintoretto (UNSOLD), Preti (SOLD 2.1 M$ including premium), Georges de La Tour (SOLD 3.2 M$ including premium), Donatello (SOLD 5 M$ before fees) and many others (online catalog at Sotheby's and Artnet).

From 4 to 7 February Christie's manages its sales of modern and contemporary paintings in London. In the first announcement for Feb 4: the Wohl collection, with an Ouled Naïl painted by van Dongen and two portraits (a woman and a girl) by Jawlensky. The lower estimate of the van Dongen (2 million pounds hammer price) comes close, in terms of price, of the Laïla from Claude Dray collection (3.3 million €, or about 2.3 million pounds premium included at Christie's Paris on June 9, 2006). The one to be sold now is of similar vintage within two years, but is far less original than its predecessor. Christie's will find it difficult to sell at that price. (SOLD 5.6 M£ premium included). Both Jawlenskys are of good vintage, but show bust portraits, thus they are less interesting than the remarkable figures of the master. They too are expensive (1.7 and 1.8 million pounds).(SOLD respectively 1.6 and 2.9 M£ premium included) In the same session, on February 6, will be presented the Gerhard Richter that we have already discussed. (SOLD 7.3 M£ premium included)Wait for catalogs, Christie's has certainly other important works to be presented in such sales. (SOLD a work by Fontana 6.7 M£ premium included)

Sotheby's is organising its sale of contemporary art in London on February 27, and presents this time Francis Bacon's "Study of a Nude With Figure in a Mirror", a more grotesque nude than that sold recently in Paris. If top buyers are not only interested on the Bacon's world-famous icons such as the Innocent X and Bullfighting sold in New York in 2007, this one could reach similar price as a great Picasso. The high estimate is 25 million pounds, so in the range of the record for a Bacon. (SOLD 20 M£ including fees).

The leading names in German and Austrian paintings will be present in Sotheby's' Feb. 5 sale in London, led by a very colorful Kirchner estimated 1.4 million pounds. (UNSOLD)


In the sale of the Albou collection at Artcurial Paris on January 29, we can see around Cesar (SOLD : a big welded iron at 250 K€ and another work at 165 K€)
and Arman (SOLD four lots for more than 130 K€ each, including a cello on panel at 300 K€).
a painting with neon by Raysse at 120 K € (UNSOLD),
a trap by Spoerri at € 130 K (SOLD 110 K€),
a big size lacerated poster by La Villeglé (150 K €) (SOLD 120 K€),
and an undoubtedly overvalued Chen Zhen's Meditation at 350 K €. (SOLD 320 K€).
(The above prices are before fees).

In the same collection, the next day, photos of the 1930's to 1960's (no significant result) and two Mapplethorpes (both UNSOLD).

Private sale in New York opening January 15: Sotheby's is devoting an exhibition of three months to Bernar Venet: a value to follow! Let us wait for the press release to better understand this trend. On 17 May 2007 a monumental Ligne Indéterminée was sold for $ 216 K at Christie's New York, but another had only 46 K € in Sotheby's Paris on December 17.


In the sale of Christie's New York, Jan. 24: Millet ($ 400 K) (SOLD 529 K$ including premium), Boucher ($ 200 K) (SOLD 361 K$ including premium), Rembrandt ($ 150 K) (SOLD 169 K$ including premium), and the watercolor portrait of Abdul-Hamid I by Hilair (150 K $). (SOLD 157 K$ including premium)
The day before, Jan. 23, Sotheby's New York auctions a large collection of old Italian drawings. (SOLD 1.9 M$ including fees a double sided drawing by Fra Bartolomeo).


The month of January has traditionally been selected for the major furniture sales in New York. Two mahogany Chippendale tilt-top tea tables compete at around 1.5 to $ 2 million each, or more because it is not sure that furniture of that quality often hits the market. The Sotheby's table, to be sold on 18/19 January, had been favoured by an exhibition in September, at that time with an estimate very open, confirmed today, of 2 to $ 6 million. (SOLD 1.83 M$ including premium). The Christie's table to be sold on 17/18 January is more modestly estimated between 1.5 and 2.5 million $. (SOLD 5.4 M$ including premium). As a comparison, I found a table sold by Sotheby's New York 1.07 million $ on Jan. 18, 2003.

On January 17, the two major silver lots of Christie's New York are Tiffanys: an imposing vase c 1900 at $ 120 K (SOLD 265 K$ including premium), and a zoomorphic wine jug at $ 100 K. I had promised not to comment aesthetics, but I find this jug really ugly. (SOLD 145 K$ including premium). From Tiffany also a silver table center will be sold on January 18 for $ 275 K by Sotheby's. (SOLD 301 K$ including premium).

In the objects that a European would not select: the lot number 562 of the Christie's sale of 18 January, a political hat of 1872, estimated 10 K$. (SOLD 33 K$ including fees).

In looking for the tea table in the Sotheby's catalog, I picked at number 123 an interesting engraving by Paul Revere, The bloody massacre at 150 K$ (SOLD 229 K$ including premium), and at number 260 a sign of wood painted 200 years ago for the Crocodile Inn Tavern, 200 K $. (UNSOLD). Both lots are also advertised in the press release.

On March 31, Webb's disperses an art collection from New Zealanders, especially of the 19th century. (see column of March 2).
On February 15, at Drouot, Binoche and Renaud-Giquello sell Precolombian art, including a Teotihuacan mask at 120 K €. (?)
Autos and great history: an Alfa Romeo that belonged to Mussolini will be sold by H & H at Cheltenham on February 27, estimated £ 600 K. (UNSOLD). The Lincoln of the last visit of JF Kennedy in New York will be sold on Jan. 18 at Biltmore, Arizona, by RMAuctions. (UNSOLD). On March 8 at Amelia Island, RMAuctions sells two Fords that belonged to Edsel Ford. (SOLD 1.76 M$ and 198 K$ including fees).

Overall impression: big business at Sotheby's.

Prepared by Peter Tavlitzki for ArtHitParade

See also previous "auction marks", I do not reissue old information on the still upcoming sales. Use the links at the top to browse ArtHitParade.