Published: December 7, 2004
A world record auction price of $23,528,000 was achieved for a John Singer Sargent oil painting at Sotheby’s December 1 sale of the property of Rita and Daniel Fraad.
The painting was sold to a private collector in the morning session of Sotheby’s sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, which was completely devoted to the Fraads’ collection. The painting, “Group with Parasols (A Siesta),” depicted a snoozing foursome in a sun-dappled outdoor setting. It had been estimated at $9/12 million.
Two determined bidders in the room competed with two on the telephone, but William Stahl, Sotheby’s vice chairman and auctioneer, bidding on behalf of a collector, prevailed with the winning bid.
The Sargent was offered early in the sale as lot 7. The auction was already warmed up, having just surpassed a $1 million price for a Willard Metcalf painting of “The Little White House,” which went for $1,016,000 ($250/350,000).
When the Sargent was presented, it was expected that it might surpass the $11,112,500 record for a Sargent painting set December 4, 1996, also at Sotheby’s. (That painting was entitled “Cashmere” and at the time carried an estimate of $5/7 million). In May of this year, Sargent’s portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife sold for $8.8 million, also at Sotheby’s, which has the distinction of selling all of the top ten Sargent paintings sold at auction.
As it turned out, “Group with Parasols (A Siesta)” had no problem leaping the $11 million hurdle. At $23,528,000, including premium, the painting was the top lot for a sale that totaled $107,855,400. Sixteen paintings in the sale broke the million-dollar mark and new auction records were set for 32 other artists.
A full auction report will appear in a future issue.
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