Published: May 13, 2003
Rare Cézanne Self-Portrait Sells for $17.4 Million
NEW YORK CITY — A rare and compelling self-portrait by Paul Cézanne that had not been on public view for more than 65 years fetched $17,367,500 at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art at Rockefeller Center on May 7. The auction, offering 31 lots — 25 of which sold establishing an 81 percent sold rate — totaled an impressive $59,737,900.
Leading the auction was the penultimate self-portrait made by Cézanne, the only one of its kind ever to appear at auction. The painting sold to Stephen A. Wynn, the casino owner and art collector, who bought the painting personally to be publicly displayed in the Wynn Collection in Las Vegas. It will be hung next to the Cézanne still life painted the same year.
Eleven works of art achieved prices of more than $1 million in the sale, with 21 of the 25 lots selling above or within their presale estimates. Successful buyers were broken down regionally with the auction house reporting that 60 percent of the lots were sold to US clients, 24 percent to European buyers, 4 percent to Asian buyers and 12 percent elsewhere.
“The bidding was aggressive for some lots and very solid throughout the evening,” said Christopher Burge, honorary chairman of Christie’s Americas and the evening’s auctioneer. “The strong percentages achieved demonstrate that the sale, while relatively small, was of very good quality and tailored to the current market.”
The second highest price of the evening was $10,311,500 fetched by Edgar Degas’s “Petite danseuse de quatorze ans,” one of the most innovative and important sculptures of the modern age. Other sculptures that sold well included Alberto Giacometti’s “Homme qui marche III,” selling at $4,039,500, and Henry Moore’s “Mother and Child with Apple” which realized $1,687,500.
“Composition in White, Blue, and Yellow”:C, an exceptional example of Piet Mondrian’s work from the mid-1930s and the only significant work by Mondrian to be offered at auction in more than ten years, was the second highest selling painting of the evening, fetching $8,071,500.
Paul Gauguin’s “Nature Morte à l’estampe japonaise,” an overt homage to Cézanne and an early indication of Gauguin’s interest in Japanese prints, realized $3,143,500. It is one of only three or four still lifes that Gauguin made during a ten-week stay in Paris following his return from Martinique, which endows it with a special importance in Gauguin’s oeuvre.
Among the top ten lots were two canvases by Gustave Caillebotte. “La rue Halévy, vu d’un balcon,” an excellent example of Caillebotte’s sophisticated style of urban Impressionism, realized $1,407,500. “Gâteaux,” a still life of pies and pastries in the window of a Parisian patisserie and one of only a handful of works in oil in which the artist employed a daring compositional format, sold for $1,351,500.
Joan Miró’s “Peinture,” a Surrealist landscape from the renowned Seagram Collection, fetched $847,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $400/600,000.
Prices include the buyer’s premium.
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