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$66.3 million van Gogh tops Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York

May 5, 2015
Lot 30. Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 NYMPHÉAS Signed Claude Monet and dated 1905 (lower left) Oil on canvas 31 7/8 by 39 1/2 in. 81 by 100.5 cm Painted in 1905. Estimate: $30-45 million.

Lot 30. Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 NYMPHÉAS
Signed Claude Monet and dated 1905 (lower left)
Oil on canvas: 31 7/8 by 39 1/2 in.
Painted in 1905.
Estimate: $30-45 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $48 million ($54,010,000 with fees).

Sotheby’s kicked off the May sales of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York with a auction that brought in a combined hammer price of $295,730,000 against an estimate in excess of $255 million (pre-sale estimates do NOT include the buyer’s premiums – the original estimate was in excess of $270, the revised number accounts for combined high estimates of withdrawn lots) – the total with buyer’s fees was $368,344,00.  There were six Monets, including a waterlilies from 1905 that hammered for $48 million ($54,010,000 with the buyer’s premium) and a late van Gogh that drew a winning bid of $59 million ($66,330,000 with fees).  Fifty of the 69 lots founds buyers, 14 failed and five were withdrawn (here’s the print version of the entire catalogue).

Paul Cézanne’s Cabane provençalefrom the estate of Washington, DC collector Lolo Sarnoff, opened the evening and made $320,000 ($394,000 with fees) against an estimate of $300,000-400,000, followed by Marc Chagall’s Les Trois acrobats (c. 1913-14), the artist’s first work that addressed a theme he would examine frequently in his career, which tanked at $620,000 (estimate $700,000-1,000,000). René Magritte’s L’Appel des cimesestimated at $900,000-1,200,000, hammered above its high estimate for $1.4 million ($1,690,000 with fees).
Lot 7. Alberto Giacometti 1901 - 1966 BUSTE DE DIEGO (AMÉNOPHIS) Inscribed with the signature Alberto Giacometti and with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris, dated 1954 and numbered 3/8 twice Bronze Height: 15 1/4 in.; 38.7 cm Conceived in 1954 and cast before 1956. Estimate: $6-8 million.

Lot 7. Alberto Giacometti 1901 – 1966 BUSTE DE DIEGO (AMÉNOPHIS)
Inscribed with the signature Alberto Giacometti and with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris, dated 1954 and numbered 3/8 twice
Bronze: Height: 15 1/4 in.; 38.7 cm
Conceived in 1954 and cast before 1956.
Estimate: $6-8 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $11.2 million ($12,794,000 with fees).

Lot 5 Pablo Picasso’s  Le Hibou Noir, also from the Sarnoff estate, estimate $900,000-1,200,000, made an even $1 million ($1,210,000 with fees), while lot 6, Marc Chagall’s Crépuscule ou la maison rougeestimated $2.5-3.5 million, saw healthy bidding that took it to $4.3 million ($5,066,000 with fees).  The first of the Giacometti sculptures also caught bidders’ attention and zipped past its $8 million high estimate to sell for $11.2 million ($12,794,000 with fees).  The first of the Legers moved every so slowly to finally hammer for $9.2 million ($10,554,000 with fees).

Lot 8. Fernand Léger 1881 - 1955 LA ROUE BLEUE, ÉTAT DÉFINITIF Signed F. Léger and dated 20 (lower right); signed F. Léger, titled and dated 20 on the reverse Oil on canvas 36 1/8 by 23 1/2 in. 92 by 60 cm Painted in 1920.  Estimate: $8-12 million.

Lot 8. Fernand Léger 1881 – 1955 LA ROUE BLEUE, ÉTAT DÉFINITIF
Signed F. Léger and dated 20 (lower right); signed F. Léger, titled and dated 20 on the reverse
Oil on canvas: 36 1/8 by 23 1/2 in.; 92 by 60 cm
Painted in 1920.
Estimate: $8-12 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $9.2 million ($10,554,000 with fees).

Lot 9, Juan Gris’ Guitare et compotierestimated at $2-3 million, could only muster $1.8 million, but still sold ($2.17 million with fees), while the following lot by Miro (below) saw more vigorous bidding, finally making $8.5 million ($9.77 million with fees).  Alberto Giacometti’s Pommes dans l’atelierestimated at $3.5-5 million, saw determined bidding that carried it to $$6.1 million ($7,082,000 with fees).

Lot 10. Joan Miró 1893 - 1983 L'OISEAU ENCERCLANT D'OR ÉTINCELANT LA PENSÉE DU POÈTE Signed Miró (lower center); signed Miró and titled and dated 1951 on the reverse Oil on canvas 23 5/8 by 31 7/8 in. 60 by 81 cm Painted in 1951.  Estimate: $6-9 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 10. Joan Miró 1893 – 1983 L’OISEAU ENCERCLANT D’OR ÉTINCELANT LA PENSÉE DU POÈTE
Signed Miró (lower center); signed Miró and titled and dated 1951 on the reverse
Oil on canvas: 23 5/8 by 31 7/8 in.: 60 by 81 cm
Painted in 1951.
Estimate: $6-9 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $8.5 million ($9.77 million with fees).
Click on image to enlarge.

Fernand Léger’s Les Pêcheurs, estimated at $2.5-3.5 million, sold on the low side for $2.8 million ($3,370,000 with fees) and lot 14, Fernand Léger’s Les Deux Pêcheurs, estimated at $4-6 million, also hammered on the low side at $4.5 million ($5,290,000 with fees).

Lot 18. Vincent van Gogh 1853 - 1890 L'ALLÉE DES ALYSCAMPS Oil on canvas 36 1/8 by 28 7/8 in. 91.7 by 73.5 cm Painted on November 1, 1888. Estimate on request.

Lot 18. Vincent van Gogh 1853 – 1890 L’ALLÉE DES ALYSCAMPS
Oil on canvas: 36 1/8 by 28 7/8 in.; 91.7 by 73.5 cm
Painted on November 1, 1888.
Estimate on request (in excess of $40 million). This lot sold for a hammer price of $59 million ($66,330,000 with fees).

The van Gogh opened at $28 million and climbed steadily to a hefty $50 million, when the pace slowed ultimately leading to a hammer of $59 million ($66,330,000 with fees), followed by the first of the night’s six Monets, which bombed at $2.5 million against a $3 million low estimate.  The first of the Picassos opened (lot 21, below) opened at $9 million and had little trouble moving into the $20 million range, finally getting a winning bid of $26.5 million ($29,930,000 with fees).

Lot 19. Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 AU VAL SAINT-NICOLAS PRÈS DIEPPE, MATIN Signed Claude Monet and dated 97 (lower right) Oil on canvas 25 7/8 by 39 1/2 in. 65.5 by 100.3 cm Painted in 1897. Estimate: $3-4 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 19. Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 AU VAL SAINT-NICOLAS PRÈS DIEPPE, MATIN
Signed Claude Monet and dated 97 (lower right)
Oil on canvas: 25 7/8 by 39 1/2 in.; 65.5 by 100.3 cm
Painted in 1897.
Estimate: $3-4 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $2.5 million and it failed to sell.
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 21. Pablo Picasso 1881 - 1973 FEMME AU CHIGNON DANS UN FAUTEUIL Signed Picasso (upper right); dated 1.11.48 on the reverse Oil on canvas 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in. 92 by 73 cm Painted in 1948. Estimate: $12-18 million.

Lot 21. Pablo Picasso 1881 – 1973 FEMME AU CHIGNON DANS UN FAUTEUIL
Signed Picasso (upper right); dated 1.11.48 on the reverse
Oil on canvas: 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.; 92 by 73 cm
Painted in 1948.
Estimate: $12-18 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $26.5 million ($29,930,000 with fees).

Lot 24. Fernand Léger 1881 - 1955 FIGURES DESCENDANT UN ESCALIER Signed F.L. and dated 13 (lower left) Gouache and brush and ink on paper 19 3/4 by 15 in. 50.3 by 38 cm Executed in 1913. Estimate: $3.5-4.5 million.

Lot 24. Fernand Léger 1881 – 1955 FIGURES DESCENDANT UN ESCALIER
Signed F.L. and dated 13 (lower left)
Gouache and brush and ink on paper: 19 3/4 by 15 in.; 50.3 by 38 cm
Executed in 1913.
Estimate: $3.5-4.5 million. This lot was withdrawn.

Lot 22 Henri Matisse’s Anémones et grenades, estimated $5-7 million, the first work by the artist of the evening edged it’s way to make its way to $5.2 million ($6,074,00 with fees). Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise dans un fauteuil noirestimated at $7-9 million, moved swiftly to its low estimate of $7 million ($8,090,000 with fees). The next of the Monets (lot 28, below) did far better than the first, easily going past its $8 million high estimate to gavel for $10 million ($11,450,00 with fees).

Lot 28. Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 LA SEINE À VÉTHEUIL Signed Claude Monet (lower left) Oil on canvas 32 1/8 by 36 3/8 in. 81.5 by 92.5 cm Painted in 1901. Estimate: $6-8 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 28. Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 LA SEINE À VÉTHEUIL
Signed Claude Monet (lower left)
Oil on canvas: 32 1/8 by 36 3/8 in.; 81.5 by 92.5 cm
Painted in 1901.
Estimate: $6-8 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $10 million $11,450,000 with fees).
Click on image to enlarge.

The marquis Monet, a waterlilies (lot 30, top), opened at $$26 million, but did not have the power bidding that the van Gogh saw. Nevertheless, determined bidding moved steadily past its $45 million high estimate to a winning bid of $48 million ($54,010,000 with fees), taken from a telephone bidder by George Wachter, Sotheby’s head of Old Master paintings.

Lot 32 Vincent van Gogh’s Femme dans un champ de blé, estimated at $5-7 million, remarkably hammered for $5.5 million ($6,410,000 with fees). According to the catalogue entry, this small work with a horribly drawn figure “painted in 1887 … exemplifies Van Gogh’s stylistic experimentation following his exposure to the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.” It’s just a terrible painting.  The Gaugin (lot 33, below), from the same collection, sold in the middle of its estimate for $5 million ($5,850,000 with fees).

Lot 33. Paul Gauguin 1848 - 1903 NATIVITÉ Signed Paul Gauguin and dated 1902 (lower right) Oil on canvas 17 3/8 by 24 5/8 in. 44.1 by 62.5 cm Painted in 1902. Estimate: $4-6 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 33. Paul Gauguin 1848 – 1903 NATIVITÉ
Signed Paul Gauguin and dated 1902 (lower right)
Oil on canvas: 17 3/8 by 24 5/8 in.; 44.1 by 62.5 cm
Painted in 1902.
Estimate: $4-6 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $5 million ($5,850,000 with fees).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 34 Alberto Giacometti’s Femme de Venise VI, a slender 51″ tall bronze figure created in 1956 and executed in the artist’s lifetime, estimated at $8-12 million, opened at $6.2 million and moved steadily to gavel for $14.2 million.  The Monet of Venice (lot 40, below), opened at $12 million and moved slowly (at $19.6 million the auctioneer tried to move the bidding along, saying “we’re all hungry” and then pleading “put us out of our misery”) to a hammer price of $20,400,000 ($23,098,000 with fees). The next lot Henry Moore’s Working Model for Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped, estimated at $2.5-3.5 million, a late work from 1975 in an edition of nine, sold just below the low end for $2.4 million ($2,890,000 with fees).

Lot 40. Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 LE PALAIS DUCAL Signed Claude Monet and dated 1908 (lower left) Oil on canvas 22 1/2 by 36 1/4 in. 57 by 92 cm Painted in 1908. Estimate: $15-20 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 40. Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 LE PALAIS DUCAL
Signed Claude Monet and dated 1908 (lower left)
Oil on canvas: 22 1/2 by 36 1/4 in.; 57 by 92 cm
Painted in 1908.
Estimate: $15-20 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $20,400,000 $$23,098,000 with fees).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 44 Pablo Picasso’s Nu couché et femme se lavant les pieds, from 1944, estimated at $6-9 million, opened at $4.5 million and moved along at a $100,000 increments to hammer for the high estimate of $9 million ($10,330,000 with fees).  The penultimate Monet (lot 47, below), opened at $14 million and just made it low estimate of $18 million ($20,410,00 with fees), while the last one (lot 49, below), a winter scene got frozen out at $5.2 million – however, bidding was reopened following lot 65 and it hammered at $5.5 million ($6,410,000 with fees).
Lot 47. Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 BASSIN AUX NYMPHÉAS, LES ROSIERS Signed Claude Monet and dated 1913 (lower left) Oil on canvas 28 3/4 by 39 3/8 in. 73 by 100 cm Painted in 1913. Estimate: $18-25 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 47. Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 BASSIN AUX NYMPHÉAS, LES ROSIERS
Signed Claude Monet and dated 1913 (lower left)
Oil on canvas: 28 3/4 by 39 3/8 in.; 73 by 100 cm
Painted in 1913.
Estimate: $18-25 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $18 million ($20,410,000 with fees).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 49. Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 LE CHEMIN D'EPINAY, EFFET DE NEIGE Signed Claude Monet (lower right) Oil on canvas 24 by 39 1/8 in. 61 by 99.5 cm Painted in 1875. Estimate: $6–8 million.  Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 49. Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 LE CHEMIN D’EPINAY, EFFET DE NEIGE
Signed Claude Monet (lower right)
Oil on canvas: 24 by 39 1/8 in.; 61 by 99.5 cm
Painted in 1875.
Estimate: $6–8 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $5.2 million and it failed to sell. Bidding on this was then reopened following lot 65 and it sold for a hammer price of $5.5 million ($6,410,000 with fees).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 50 Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Femme nue couchée soutenant des fruitsa reclining female nude of Reubensian proportions, estimated at $6-8 million, and most unappealing, bombed at $4.8 million, the evening’s eight lot to fail.  Lot 52 Edgar Degas’ Femme à sa toilettean 1884 pastel estimated at $2.5-3.5 million, opened at $1.3 million and tanked at $1.7 million, the ninth buy-in.  This is the point when the auction room begins to empty – the sale isn’t over – but the works at this stage are lesser interest (and estimate), like lot 57, a truly awful Matisse, estimated at $1.2-1.8 million, and dropped out at $750,000.

 

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