Published: August 12, 2008
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art evening sale took place on June 24 and realized $283,970,023 †the highest ever total for an art auction conducted in Europe. The top lot of the auction was “Le bassin aux nymphéas,” a masterpiece painting by Claude Monet, which realized $80,451,178, a world record price for the artist at auction. A total of 44 works of art sold for more than $1 million, and buyer activity at the auction (by lot) was 62 percent Europe, including United Kingdom, 34 percent Americas, three percent Asia and one percent other. The auction saw a total of eight artist records established, including for Claude Monet, Henry Moore and Natalia Goncharova.
The following day’s auction of Impressionist and Modern works on paper totaled $12,051,383. The top lot was “Danseuses au repos” by Edgar Degas, which sold for $946,138.
The Impressionist and Modern art day sale finished at $35,068,132, the highest ever total for an Impressionist and Modern day sale at Christie’s in London. The top lot was “Nu sur fond rouge” by Marc Chagall (1887‱985), which realized $1,732,538.
Combined with the record-breaking results of the evening auction, the Impressionist and Modern art sales in London for the week totaled $297,753,944.
In characterizing the June 24 evening sale, Olivier Camu, director and head of Impressionist and Modern art, Christie’s London, and Thomas Seydoux, international co-head of Impressionist and Modern art at Christie’s, said, “This auction realized the highest total for any art auction ever held in Europe, and illustrates the continuing strength and confidence of the art market. We saw particularly strong bidding for works of the highest quality, which were fresh to the market.”
A further highlight was “Danseuse a la barre,” an extremely rare early masterpiece in pastel by Edgar Degas, which drew bidding from a number of international clients and far exceeded its presale estimate, selling for $26,504,138, the second highest price for the artist at auction.
Rounding out the top five prices of the evening were “Les Fleurs,” circa 1912, a rare and powerful work by Natalia Goncharova (1881‱962), which sold for $10,870,506 (world record price for the artist at auction; world record price for a work by a female artist at auction); “Draped Reclining Woman” by Henry Moore (1898‱986), which was also offered from the estate of J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller and which realized $8,448,394 (world record price for the artist at auction); and “The Portrait of Yanaihara” by Alberto Giacometti (1906‱966), which was painted in 1958 and which sold for $8,448,394.
The auction was led by a selection of 17 works from the estate of J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller. J. Irwin Miller, an industrialist from Columbus, Ind., and his wife, Xenia Simons Miller, who were major philanthropists and patrons of the arts and who were instrumental in turning the American city of Columbus into a showcase for modern architecture. The 17 Impressionist and Modern works together realized $132,783,738, led by Monet’s “Le bassin aux nymphéas.”
A selection of seven works from the collection of the late Simon Sainsbury were also sold, for a total of $20,495,059, led by “Collioure. Les Balancelles,” 1887, an early Pointillist picture by Paul Signac (1836‱935), which brought $5,806,090. One of Britain’s most generous philanthropists and discerning collectors, Sainsbury assembled throughout his lifetime one of the finest private British collections of the Twentieth Century, from which a selection of furniture, ceramics and art was sold at an auction on June 18 at Christie’s in London for $32,214,961, bringing the total to $52,710,020. Proceeds from the sale of the collection as a whole will benefit the charity established by Sainsbury in 1965, The Monument Trust.
A selection of 11 works from a distinguished European collection assembled nearly half a century ago realized $18,666,285 and was led by “Les Sapins, Varengeville,” a luminous coastal landscape by Monet (1840‱926), which was painted in the summer of 1882, when the artist was staying at Pourville on the Norman coast in France. The painting brought $6,246,474.
The auction sold seven works from the collection of Twentieth Century avant-garde works assembled by Alfred and Elisabeth Hoh, which toured various German institutions between 1998 and 2000 as the “Languages of Art” exhibition and which garnered $25,197,730. Leading the selection was Goncharova’ s “Les Fleurs.”
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.Christies.com or +44 207 389 2965.
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