24 févr. 2008

Auction tracking : from Buddha to Harry Potter through a hypermodernist tea house


On May 6, in New York, a Monet is regarded by Christie's as particularly important because of its modern and luminous look. It shows a railway bridge in Argenteuil as painted in 1873. Christie's does not reveal the estimate in its press release but unveiled it to AFP and Bloomberg on the occasion of the Spring Masterpieces Exhibition underway in London until February 27: it is expected 35 M$. (SOLD 41.5 M$ including fees). Also making the trip to London a sculpture by Giacometti (18 M$), (SOLD 27.5 M$ including fees on May 6), a double Marlon by Warhol (25 M$) (SOLD 32.5 M$ including fees on May 13) and Rothko's previously announced (40 M$). (SOLD 50 M$ including fees on May 13).

On March 18, Koller in Zurich sells an animated landscape by Jakob Philipp Hackert, located in the countryside around Capua (118x167 cm, 500 KFS), (SOLD 600 KFS before fees), and an Odessa harbour by Aivazovski (50x76 cm, 500 KFS). (SOLD 1.25 KFS before fees). A beautiful portrait of a young woman by Konstantin E. Makovski (40x27 cm) seems cheap at 150 KFS. (UNSOLD). Note the very pleasant online presentation, a PDF document of 36 pages, of major lots from the March sales of this house which celebrates its 50th anniversary in business. We are talking also about it in several places below.
Click on Preview in the ad for this session of sales.

Not far away, in Vienna on 15 and 16 April, ImKinsky presents a genre scene by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1 M€). (SOLD 1.05 M€ before fees).

On May 24, in Hong Kong, Christie's attack the market for contemporary Chinese art, and offers works by Zeng Fanzhi, (SOLD 75 MHK$ including fees), Yue Minjun (top SOLD 54 MHK$ including fees) and Zhang Xiaogang. (top SOLD 18 MHK$ including fees).

Antik A.S. organizes a sale of paintings on March 9 in Istanbul, including an Oriental beauty by Bridgman (55x45 cm). Keep in mind that this house is one of the world leaders for Orientalist paintings, with a fine recent record for Osman Hamdi at 5 million YTL. Their website is very well illustrated.

For national artists, as my regular readers (if any) recognize it as one of my favourite themes, here is Korea, with two works by the rare artist Park Sookeoun expected at 500 and 400 K $ by Christie's on March 18 in New York. The subjects are traditional, it's the very original style of this artist which makes it so wanted. (SOLD 657 and 601 K$ including fees)

The sale of a collection of Italian contemporary art by Sotheby's in Milan on April 8, allows us to review artists of this country, where art is active but so little represented in the French auctions. Estimates are around a few tens of KEuros. I will be more accurate when the results will be available (according to my usual, I will include them in bold in this article). (SOLD including fees 192 K€ a composite work by Jannis Kounellis and 162 K€ a tapestry by Alighiero Boetti).

In online sales by Saffronart in Mumbai on March 13, 7 works are expected to more than 4.5 MRs each. The artists involved are between 42 and 52 years old. They are, starting with the oldest (an original classification in this column!): Surendran Nair (2 works) (SOLD one of them 21.2 MRs), Baiju Parthan (SOLD 5.4 MRs), Atul Dodiya (2 works) (SOLD 7.9 and 6.5 MRs), Subodh Gupta (SOLD 18.1 MRs) and Shibu Natesan (SOLD 10.7 MRs). Thanks to Artvalue for putting this sale on the front page of its website, otherwise I would not have found it. Above prices include fees.


On March 18, Christie's New York sells a seated Buddha making the gesture of knowledge. This wooden statue of Japanese Kamakura period is attributed to Unkei. Coming from the late twelfth century according to the Western calendar, it is obviously an exceptional event.
A work as old as this one attributed to an artist whose biographical elements are known is a must in the world of auctions, and the expert from Christie's, Katsura Yamaguchi, knows it. We are a century before the beginning of the work of Giotto! The Petit Robert French dictionary characterized Unkei as "the most outstanding sculptor of Buddhist statues in a dynasty yet rich in talent."
Interesting detail: an X-ray analysis led to detect three objects of Buddhist symbols locked from the outset in the statue.
This work is estimated $ 1.5 million. Let me be modest: I have no evidence to judge whether this estimate is too low. The price will depend on the condition of the item, which was announced "fine" but not perfect.
Traceability, or at least what is known of it, is described in the press release from Christie's.
(SOLD 12.8 M$ before fees)

Beside it is another important item: a Japanese leaf screen decorated with gold that has survived intact for 400 years. It is representing horses, a social symbol of the rising power of the class of warriors. It is estimated 400 K $. (UNSOLD)

Buddha is decidedly highlightened in Christie's. The next day, March 19, will be dispersed two bronzes, each at $ 1 million: a large sitting boddhisatva of X / XI century very finely carved, (SOLD 2.5 M$) and a statue of the Perfection of Wisdom in perfect condition. (SOLD 1.05 M$)
In the same sale: a dark green jade of a buffalo (400 K $), (SOLD 421 K$), a Song translucent blue-green vase (800 K $), (SOLD 2.3 M$) and other rarities.
These prices include fees.


Leaving the Gillot sale reviewed in a previous column, and pending a few days, you can go to Zurich where Koller, among its auction sale session in March, offers a Limoges enameled piece on March 14 (SOLD 50 KFS before fees) and a folio sheet from an antiphonaire on March 18, 40 each in KFS. (SOLD 90 KFS before fees).

A superb Nevers cup of the sixteenth century full decorated by a mythologic story (diameter 29 cm) comes on June 4 at Drouot. It is presented by Piasa in an advertisement in The Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot. Very old as a Nevers piece, it has the appearance (at least to the uninitiated) of an Italian ceramics from the same period. (SOLD 10.2 K€ before fees).


In its advertisement in La Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot, Leclere ads for April 5 in Marseille a library of Perriand, classically edited by Steph Simon (227x336x46 cm). (SOLD 73 K€ before fees).

A curiosity: on April 3 in London, Phillips de Pury sells a contemporary tea house! This 5 meter long structure in paper tubes made by Shigeru Ban includes a table, stools and a rest place compatible with the tea ceremony. A superb bargain for collectors having a wide store room (20 K £). (SOLD 32 K£ including fees).

Christie's chose the third world auction place, Hong Kong, to sell on May 28 a colourless (F) diamond of 101 carats, shield-shaped (HK$ 47 million). (SOLD 48.5 MHK$ including fees). In the same city Sotheby's had sold on October 8 last year a perfect blue diamond. Shall the Far Eastern gem market now compete with Middle East? According to a tradition that is developing for exceptional gems, the buyer must give a name to this diamond, which was unveiled in the Spring Masterpieces Exhibition of Christie's.
Christie's invites his readers to download the image: Do it now!


A complicated Wurtemberg clock shall spend time at Koller in Zurich on March 17. Overheaded by two globes, one terrestrial and the other celestial, it is signed by Phillip Mathäus Hahn and dated around 1785. Its low estimate (180 KFS) may be due to its small size (50x28x70 cm). (SOLD 430 KFS before fees). It is accompanied by a clock with the phases of the moon by Coteau (100 KFS) (SOLD 120 KFS before fees) and a superb turning circle clock of Louis XVI style (120 KFS). (SOLD 140 KFS before fees).

They did not find a Guarnerius violin in perfect condition as Sotheby's recently sold one in private sale: Bonhams' Stradivarius had lost one of its faces ... Who wants? Response in London on March 10 (£ 120 K). (UNSOLD).


D & FL advertised in the Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot a sale of old books which will be auctioned in Paris (Salle Rossini) on March 10. I was interested with an atlas of 174 maps by Bertius, dated very early (1602). Same sale also includes traditional Chansons from Laborde binded by Bradel-Derôme, (SOLD 19 K€ before fees), and an original edition of the Marguerites de la Marguerite des princesses (1547). This auction house is based in Rouen.

On April 2, in New York, Christie's disperses the first part of a library devoted entirely to Dickens. (SOLD 229 K$ including fees a first edition of Oliver Twist)

Newest: Bloomsbury disperse a collection of 550 original editions in 67 languages of Harry Potter books (author JK Rowling) on February 28 in London. (UNSOLD : had been offered as a single lot estimated 40 K£).

A large library comes at Drouot, with a first session by Piasa on March 11: that of Bernard Lolliée, who met Tzara. (no: Jean Bielas library). Amid the books, you can find a Boîte en valise by Duchamp (20 K €). (SOLD 82 K€ before fees). Do not rely on price in the estimates. The expert himself says it in Les Echos. Eternal opacity of the art market, eternal need to clarify the fair value of things ...


Too late, it happened a few days ago. As my monitoring is weekly, this late release rose through the mesh of my net. So I cannot invite you to bid on a document handwritten and signed by Fidel Castro himself showing his plan of attack on the Moncada barracks. We should have to be Feb. 21 in Dallas at Heritage. In no other place, moreover, you can buy such things ... (UNSOLD)
Since we spoke of the recent past of this house, I highlight a sale of coins of 1 cent from 1793 to 1806 included in a coin sale on 14, 15 and 16 February. I counted 23 of 1 cent coins over $ 100 K with a double peak price at $ 632.5 K (including expenses). In the press release, the seller expresses its satisfaction! I appreciate this.