Inspired by Phillips 20th century sales, Sotheby’s was obliged to combine the Modern and Contemporary Evening departments due to the lack of consignments. From the 49 Modern lots and 48 Contemporary, almost 10% of the lots were withdrawn at the last minute.
Christie’s Global Sale achieved excellent results with only 9% BI. From Hong Kong (with headliners such as Richter, Grotjahn and Condo); to Paris’ most expensive artists (including Pierre Soulages as he nears his 100th birthday who sold at 6,5M EUR); to Britain’s most sought after young painter, Cecily Brown (4,8M GBP) in London. But the real show-stoppers were reserved for the final stage in New York.
Sotheby’s Evening sale carried the lowest presale estimate since 2009, and, while realizing £49.9 M against a £41.8 M – £59.6 M estimate, with just four lots going unsold; this Evening sale was down by 36.7% against last year. Sotheby’s relied heavily on three works that had been looted by the Nazis and restored to Gaston Lévy, including the highest estimated lot this year: an £8 M – £12 M neo-Impressionist Camille Pissarro painting of peasants working in a field.
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening sale featured Hockney’s The Splash which fetched £21M (without premium), barely reaching the low estimate of £20M. Still, the price is nearly eight times the achieved when the work last sold at auction for £2.9 million in 2006. A good result for the Hong Kong billionaire seller, Joseph Lau, who in 2014 was convicted of bribery and money-laundering in Macao.