Published: February 19, 2008
Aguttes Auction House, in association with the specialist Dan Coissard, set new records with its sale of fine art December 21 at Hôtel Drouot. Auctioned were ten key pieces from the private collection of André Lefèvre that sold for a total of $32 million. These ten pieces included works by Miró, Picasso, Juan Gris, Henri Laurens and Fernand Léger.
The works, conserved for the past 40 years in safe deposit boxes, had not been seen by the public since they were last exhibited with the rest of the André Lefèvre collection at the Musée national d’Art Moderne in Paris in 1964.
This anxiously awaited part of the sale did not begin until two hours into the event, at lot number 150, heralded by Joan Miró’s oil on canvas “Blue Star,” which soared to $16.6 million. Created in 1927, it was considered by Miró to be one of his most emblematic and representative works. A second oil by Miró, “Oiseau,” dated 1926, climbed to a final price of $8,898,000.
A still life in pastel by Pablo Picasso painted in 1921, an example of the artist’s last phase of Cubism, brought $656,000.
The second half of the collection Lefèvre presented two key examples of Juan Gris’s synthetic Cubist style. Rumored to be one of Lefèvre’s favorite artists, works by Gris adorned the walls of Lefèvre’s bedroom, particularly the oil on canvas “L’Arlequin à la guitare,” 1918, which achieved $3.1 million.
The second oil on canvas of a smaller size, “Le Broc (The Jug)” of 1920, which also depicts the artist’s colorful Cubist style, soared above estimate to fetch $802,000, followed by two of the first Cubist works on paper by Henri Laurens: “Etang la vallée” of 1917 that reached $893,000 and “Composition à la guitare” of 1919 at $131,000.
The collection featured two works on paper by Fernand Léger: “Les plongeurs noirs (The Black Divers),” a gouache of a subject matter painted several times by the artist, as well as “Le pot de fleurs,” a watercolor. They realized $87,000 and $102,000, respectively.
Aside from the collection of Lefèvre, the auction offered four other sections of Orientalist, Nineteenth Century, Russian paintings and Modern and contemporary art. This ensemble was followed by two scenes of Marrakech by Jacques Majorelle; “The souk in Khemis” and “The palmeraie” soared to $747,000 and $592,000, respectively.
Following the success of previous Russian sales, Aguttes and Dan Coissard continue to dominate the Russian paintings market in France. An oil by Vladimir Egorovitch Makovsky, “Famille de moujiks,” sold for $237,000, followed by a portrait of two little children by Alexei Alexeiewitch Harlamoff that snatched $51,000. Closing this section, a series of 20 gouaches from the atelier of Marie Vassilieff met the interest of many bidders.
On the heels of the Lefèvre collection, yet another Léger, “Les Fumées,” that once belonged to the Rosenberg Gallery, sold for $228,000. Furniture by Diego Giacometti was led by three pairs of chairs that sold for $775,000.
All prices reported have been converted to US dollars from euros. The next auction at Drouot-Richelieu will be February 15. For information, the US contact is Frédéric Thut at 917-282-6044 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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