Miró sets record at Sotheby’s in
’s modern art sales London
But Christie’s auction was stronger overall, with a better-edited selection of work
Georgina Adam. Web only
Published online: 22 June 2012
The June sales of impressionist and modern art in
different results even if some startlingly high prices were achieved. London
Things got off to a limp start at Sotheby’s evening sale on 19 June in a session that was marked by poor quality and overly high estimates. The 48 works in the catalogue had a target of £72.9m-£102.6m, and totalled just over £75m –slightly short of the low estimate, as pre-sale figures do not include commission. Fifteen lots failed, making a sold-through rate of 68.8%. “In view of the material on offer, things did better than I expected,” commented the
dealer Edmondo di Robilant. London
The highlight was Miró’s Peinture (Etoile Bleue), 1927, which was effectively pre-sold as it carried a guarantee and “irrevocable bid” symbol. The work had recently been exhibited at the Zurich Kunsthaus (“Miró, Monet, Matisse—The Nahmad Collection”, 21 October 2011–15 January 2012) and carried an estimate of £15m-£20m. It was chased by Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, Tobias Meyer on the telephone, as well as Stephane Cosman Connery, who has just left his position as head of private sales at Sotheby’s, on a mobile phone in the room. Meyer bagged the painting at £23.6m, setting a new record for Miró.
The other standout was a fine group of Kandinsky works on paper which attracted bidding from the room and on the telephone. The highest price of £1.33m was given for Entwurf zu ‘Grüner Rand’, 1919 (est. £750,000-£900,000), from a telephone bidder. But there were many casualties, including two Munchs [Seated Young Woman, 1916, bought in at £2.3m, estimate £2.5m-£3.5m, and Kragerø in Spring, 1929, bought in at £800,000, estimate £1m-£1.5m.] and Otto Dix’s, Sitzender akt mit Blondem Haar, 1931, estimate £4m-£6m, unsold at £3.1m.
Christie’s sale the following night on 20 June was far stronger. It totalled £92.6m (pre-sale estimate £74.5m-£100m) with 80% of the lots finding buyers. The total could have been higher, but as the sale started the auctioneer announced that the top lot, a fleshy Renoir Baigneuse, 1888, had been sold privately.