A late Picasso ‘musketeer’ leads a healthy £ 150 million impressionist and modern sale at Christie’s London
Picasso’s painting of a musketeer with a naked woman sold for £ 13.7 million.
On a chilly, snow-covered evening, Christie’s two weeks started with art auctions in London that are expected to generate a total of £ 782 million ($ 1.1 billion). When this is …………(PICASSO)….(Edgar DEGAS)…
achieved, it becomes a record for a series of Impressionist and modern and contemporary art sales in London, where in February 2014 a peak of £ 709.5 million ($ 1.2 billion) including premiums occurred.
High on the list – and without taking into account someone’s dinner plans – the house stacked up 97 lots in their evening sales. At the front of the packed room, where many had participated to get a taste of the Rockefeller treasures to be sold in New York later this spring, sales reached a healthy £ 149.6 million, fully within the estimated total of £ 122 million – £ 167 million. (Prices include premium, estimates are not.)
The total was Christie’s second highest in this category for a London sale and included £ 36 million from a catalog of 34 surrealist works. Twenty-two percent of the total lots failed to sell.
A modest four lots were guaranteed in the Impressionist and Modern section, including the top two on value. One of Picasso’s many late musketeers’ paintings sold for £ 13.7 million (with a low estimate of £ 12 million). The buyer was Harry Smith, chairman of the London art consultants and appraisers Gurr Johns. It last appeared at an auction in 2007 when it was sold for £ 6.8 million. Smith then went on to buy all seven Picassos in this part of the sale, spending more than £ 40 million of his customer’s money and bringing challenging challengers from Asia and the Acquavella and Lefevre galleries, without ever breaking into a smile. But strangely enough he left for the surreal sale, in which there were other Picassos.
The second top notch, Edgar Degas’
theatrical scene In the Wings (1882-85), was bought in PARIS in 1997 for £ 2.5 million, doubling the estimate. Now guaranteed with a low estimate of £ 8 million and although it is not identified as such in the catalog, which is known to be owned by the British billionaire collector Lord Graham Kirkham, it apparently sold to the third-party guarantor without a competitor for £ 9 million. Still a sale.
Monet’s compelling study in green, blue and pink, Prairie à Giverny, from 1885, was unguaranteed. The Scottish collector Herbert Dunsmuir bought it for £ 1,850 in 1951 and passed it on to his descendants, one of whom was James Knox, the former managing director. from The Art Newspaper. Tonight it sold under estimate for £ 7.5 million, but realized an average price increase of 13 percent every year for 67 years, which would have warmed up the cockles of the heart of the old Scotsman.
An unnoticed aspect of this sale was the group of works from the Triton collection in the Netherlands. It was not so long ago that Triton was in the news when a number of his valuable paintings were stolen from an exhibition in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. Some, such as a soft Lucian Freud portrait of a young, terminally ill woman, have never been found. The five paintings in the sale of this Christie were all included in the exhibition in Rotterdam, but were too big to fit in the outings of the thieves.
Leading the bunch was a verdant Monet landscape or Vétheuil (1879), which sold Sarah Pearce, who bid against an Asian phone buyer. Asian bidding account for two other Triton lots-one paying a record £ 525,632 for a work on paper, Jan Toorop’s Faith and Reward (1902). The pastel had previously been auctioned in Germany in 2000 for just £ 30,000.