During these last 2 evening both Christie’s (Feb 27) and Sotheby’s (Feb28) held their Impressionist&Modern Art evening sales. Let’s look together at the results…
The “matador” Pablo Picasso’s led both sales with his masterpieces:
At Christie’s was the ” Mousquetaire et nu assis” (1967) with 13,733,750£ ($4,226,500) final price. Dated 1967, when this figure of musqueteer first start to appear, the esteem for this work was 12-18mln. In the same evening Chrieste’s has had some other lots by Picasso which reached over-esteem price, as “ Femme se coiffant” ( 6,758,750£) and “Le coq saligne” (5,521,250£).
At Sotheby’s, on the other hand, the Picasso’s portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter was sold for 49,827,000£ ( estimated £36,5 milions), becoming the second most expensive work ever sold at auction in Europe. Realized in 1937, just few moth before the history-making “Guernica”, this work comes from crucial year in Picasso production, and thus well worth this record price. Among the other 4 Picasso on sale, we can mention “Tete de Femme” sold for 6,360,500£ and “El Matador”, the bullfighter, from the last period of his life, sold for £16,521,500.
Now, to have a wider view on the 2 sales…
Christie’s closed the Impressionist&Modern evening with a 113.863.000 £ total sale , to then sum up with 35.729.750£ from Surrealist Art Auction, for a total strong result of 149.592.750 £ sale. A result that fully matched the expectations (110-180 milion) and with a quite growth if compared to last year result (£136.874.958 ). This result confirm the wealth of this art market segment , now mostly driven by asian buyers. Other top lots were for sure the 3 masterpieces by Monet : Prairie à Giverny” from 1885 (£7-10 mln) e “Vétheuil” 1879 (£4-6 mln) both sold for 7,546,250 £ e “Pivoines” (1887) sold for £4,508,750 (esteemed 3,5-5,5 mln). However, the second highest price of the evening was made by a Edgar Degas painting, Dans les Coulisse (1882/1885) sold for £8,993,750. On the other hand, the highest prices in the Surrealist Art auction were reached by another Picasso (Figure, 1930 , £8,333,750- third highest price of the evening) and Magritte (Le groupe silencieux, 1926, £7,208,750). However there has been some space also for the greatest italian Modern art, with 3 Giorgio Morandi’s work sold over-esteem for more than £2,9 mln.
If we look at Sotheby’s last evening (Feb28) sale, the pre-sale estimate of £101.6–126.4 million was lower than last season’s £150–197 million, but the £136 million result was a good sign of the strength of the market.
Leading the auction, as we said, there was the great masterpieces by Picasso, but they weren’t alone: among the highlights of the evening there was a very rare work by the great futurist italian master Umberto Boccioni, Testa+luce+ambiente, dated 1912. It was a exceptional event to see such kind of work by Boccioni on sale, as his production, cut short with his death in 1916, is now mostly all in great museum collections as MoMa, Guggenheim as well as Italian museum (especially the XXCentury Museum in Milan and Mart Museum in Rovereto) . Indeed, we haven’t seen one of his work since “Donna che Cuce”(1906) in a Christie’s Italian sale in Milan. However this time was not a figurative or divisionistic Boccioni, but a work at the highest point of his elaboration of Futurism poetic in the full compenetration of bodies+space+time+energies. This work was realized almost in the same years as masterpieces as Materia (now in Venice Peggy Guggenheim Collection) and Forme uniche della continuità dello spazio, in the same period while he was writing his important theoric publication Pittura e scultura futuriste, let unfinished due his sudden death in the war. Therefore it was inevitable that this work realizes the new artist record, sold for £9,070,100 (esteemed £5,5- 7,5).
Just before the sale Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “It is incredibly rare for Futurist paintings by Boccioni to appear on the market and this work represents the essence of his artistic dynamism. The intense moment of creativity within which Boccioni pioneered the Futurist movement was tragically cut short, so there are very few of his stunning paintings in existence. With the majority of these now housed in museums including MoMA and the Museo del Novecento in Milan, collectors around the globe will recognise this once in a generation opportunity to acquire a major Futurist painting.”
Other highlights in the evening were André Derain, Batteau à Colliure, (10,876,500), a Marc Chagall great piece sold for £ 3,650,900 and among over-esteem pieces sculpture by Giacometti which started from 400.000 and sold for 1,809,000£.
By and large, the overall setting that emerged from these evenings sales result is that Impressionist & Modern Art seems still have some appeal, especially for international buyers. Also if we look as Christie’s result in 2017, this segment saw a growth of +60%, for a $1.6billion total sales. Therefore we can see it as a segment which still active and prosperous , for whom are willing to invest to real masterpieces.