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$85 million might get you three Picassos – Are they any good? Who cares? They’re expensive. UPDATED with sale results

October 19, 2012

Lot 9. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 – 1973, NATURE MORTE AUX TULIPES, Signed Picasso and dated XXXII (upper right); dated 2 Mars XXXII H 9 à 11 1/2 Hs on the stretcher
Oil on canvas, 51 1/8 by 38 3/4 in., 130 by 97 cm. Painted on March 2, 1932.
Estimate: $35-50 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $37 million.

The ability to separate the quality of art from its monetary value will continue to erode when several hundred million dollars worth of Impressionist and Modern Art are auctioned the first week of November at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York.  The evening sales of the boffo material flank the November 6 presidential election, another instance where huge sums of money have grossly distorted the notion of value.

Sotheby’s kicks off the November onslaught with a trio Picassos collectively estimated at $60-85 million.  Are they any good? Who cares?  They’re expensive.  In the old days of trophy hunting you ended up with an animal’s head on the wall, and a good story or two.  A decade or so later, that same relic, now with a touch of the mange, would be hard to give away let alone sell.   Not so today – trophy on the wall, a good story or two, and after a decade it’s probably worth a whole lot more.

Here are the remainder of the top five lots (by estimate) at the November 5 evening sale at Sotheby’s – actually there are six lots since two are estimated at $5-7 million:

Lot 17. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 – 1973, FEMME À LA FENÊTRE (MARIE-THÉRÈSE), Dated 13 avril XXXVI (upper left), Oil on canvas, 21 5/8 by 18 in., 55 by 45.7 cm. Painted on April 13, 1936.
Estimate: $15-20 million.

Lot 29. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 – 1973, PLANT DE TOMATE, Signed Picasso (lower left); dated 7 août 44 on the reverse, Oil on canvas, 35 7/8 by 28¼ in., 91 by 71.8 cm. Painted on August 7, 1944.
Estimate: $10-15 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $8.75 million and it failed to sell.

Lot 42. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 – 1973, FEMME À LA ROBE VERTE, Dated 1er Mai 56 II on the reverse, Oil on canvas 36 1/8 by 28 3/4 on., 92 by 73 cm. Painted on May 1, 1956.
Estimate: $6-8 million. Despite two actual bids (not “chandelier bids”), this lot failed to dell at $5.25 million.

Lot 19. CLAUDE MONET, 1840 – 1926, CHAMP DE BLÉ, Signed Claude Monet and dated 81 (lower left), Oil on canvas 25 7/8 by 32 1/4 in., 65.7. by 82 cm. Painted in 1881.
Estimate: $5-7 million.  This lot sold for a hammer price of $10.75 million.

Lot 33. PAUL CÉZANNE, 1839 – 1906, LA FEMME À L’HERMINE, D’APRÈS LE GRECO, Oil on canvas
20 7/8 by 19 1/4 in.
53 by 49 cm
Painted in 1885-86.
Estimate: $5-7 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $3.2 million and it failed to sell.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Catherine Sezgin permalink
    October 19, 2012 11:51 AM

    Dear Mr. Wennerstrom,

    I always love your comments on art. Had you heard about the Triton Collection before the Kunsthal Rotterdam theft? Have you ever heard anything about the integrity or quality of the collection? I was just wondering.

    Sincerely,

    Catherine

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