Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening sale pulled off a total of $209m, selling 6 lots above estimates, 16 within the estimated price, 20 below its low estimate. Still, only 8 lots went unsold, representing a 16% BI. The top lot of the night was Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet was sold for $27.6M after it remained in the same collection for 40 years. After heated bidding, a new world auction record was established for Tamara de Lempicka when La Tunique rose sold to applause for $13.4m.
While the total was down more than 25% from the equivalent sale a year ago, the Sotheby’s auction ended New York’s auction week on a relatively secure note. With a solid 10% BI, 21 lots offered sold above estimate, 22 within estimates, only 3 below estimate. The night’s biggest lot was Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XXII (1977), for $30.1 M, surpassing by 5% its low estimate. The same Asian bidder previously secured Clyfford Still’s PH-399 (1946) for $24.3 million just two lots earlier.
The secretive British artist’s massive piece of political satire, "Devolved Parliament" (2009), vaulted its high estimate of £2 million to eventually selling for £9.8 million with fees, setting a new Banksy auction record. It tied with a large Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, "Pyro" (1984), for the night’s top prize. Though the results for the Basquiat and the Banksy were equal, the latter was by far the evening’s star lot, inspiring a dramatic bidding war that dragged on for 13 minutes.
Sotheby´s dominated the evening as well as the day. The achieved BI rate of 8% has been one of the highest rate achieved for an evening sale in that category in London since 1988. The sale's total of £98,875,924 included the sale of Claude Monet’s “Nymphéas” (1908) for £23,7M, (16% below its low estimate). This was one out of three guaranteed works from an Argentinian collection.
Sotheby's Evening Sales performed smoothly, since out of the 42-lot sale, just 4 failed to find a buyer, resulting in a BI rate of 10%. Although several works were sold on single bids or to their guarantees, the overall result totaled a £69,263,300. One of the highlights was Francis Bacon's “Self Portrait” (1975) which sold for £14.3M (4% below estimate).
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening sale came in slightly above the previous year’s sale with a total of $349,859,150. The weight of the sale’s total relied on the top ten lots representing 70% of the total and more than 50% of the total coming from the top three lots.
A potent combination of record-setting Pop art masterworks and a stainless steel rabbit sculpture by you-know-who drove Christie’s sale to a modest total of $538,971,000, 7% short of the pre-sale low estimate. With 17 guarantees, only 5 of the 56 lots offered failed to sell, for a BI rate of 9%, and 47 of the 51 sold lots made over $1 million.
The Brexit drama has already taken its first victims down the February Impressionist & Modern sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, which totaled £167,180,000 across the three evening sales, representing a decrease in the hammer total of 16.5% from February 2018. The combined sales total ended up well below the pre-sale estimate of £199,420,000 – £266,830,000.
Sotheby’s Evening sale experimented with a new distribution of lots, placing female artists first. Almost 20% of the 66 lots offered were by women, its highest ever proportion of female artists. As a result, there were hits and misses. Expectations were high for Jenny Saville’s nine-foot fleshy canvas of a woman’s back, Juncture (1994); but it elicited just one bid, selling over the phone to its guarantor for £4.8m against a brave estimate of £5m-£7m.