Impressionist/Modern Auctions, 11/07

Christie’s and Sotheby’s kicked off the Fall auction season with their Impressionist & Modern Art evening sales this week with Christie’s November 6 sale totaling $394,977,200 and Sotheby’s November 7 sale bringing in $269,741,600. Christie’s sold 74 of its 91 its offered (only 7 lots bought in) while Sotheby’s successfully sold 56 out of its 76 lots.

Christie’s sold three lots for over $30 million (including buyer’s premium). Those were: Henri Matisse’s L’Odalisque, harmonie bleue for a record $33,641,000, Amadeo Modigliani’s Portrait of the Sculptor Oscar Miestchaninoff for $30,841,000 and Pablo Picasso’s 1955 portrait entitled Femme Accroupie au Costume Turk (Jacqueline) for $30,841,000.

The top two lots sold at the Sotheby’s sale were Gauguin’s 1892 Tahitian painting Te Poipoi (Le Matin) for $39,241,000 against an estimate of $40,000,000 – $60,000,000 and a Picasso sculpture of Dora Maar, Tete de femme (Dora Maar), for $29,161,000 (the highest price paid at auction for a Picasso sculpture) against an estimate of $20,000,000 – $30,000,000.

Though perhaps the bidding was not as heady and carefree as some in the art world had hoped the sales were successful and many good prices achieved for top quality works with good provenance and reasonable estimates. The Post War and Contemporary auctions begin in New York next week with Christie’s leading things off on November 13th followed by Sotheby’s on the 14th and Phillips on the 15th. Many will be looking to those sales as a gauge of the state of the market having not been given a definitive answer at the Impressionist Modern sales. It will be interesting to see how the Contemporary market responds to the poor performance of the stock market midweek.