Christie’s 20th Century Week totals $620.2 million

New world auction records established for 10 artists, with Christie’s becoming the market leader for Impressionist and Modern Art

Christie’s 20th Century Week sales in New York of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art realised a combined total of $620.2 million / £502.3 million / €583 million, attracting an engaged, confident and increasingly global community of collectors.  

A total of almost 750 individual works were sold across the week, with combined sell-through rates for Christie’s live auctions at 80 per cent by lot and 86 per cent by value. The sales set 10 new world auction records for artists and attracted bidders from across the globe, representing a total of 47 countries. Of these, American buyers were particularly prominent, with strong competition from Asian and European collectors, particularly for Impressionist and Modern Art. 

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), Untitled XXV, 1977. Oil on canvas, 77 x 88 in (195.7 x 223.5 cm). Sold for $66,327,500 on 15 November 2016

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), Untitled XXV, 1977. Oil on canvas, 77 x 88 in (195.7 x 223.5 cm). Sold for $66,327,500 on 15 November 2016

Opening 20th Century Week, Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale achieved a total of $276,972,500, with 89 per cent sold by lot and 94 per cent sold by value. Leading the sale was Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XXV, which sold for $66.3 million, establishing a new world record for the artist. The work recalibrated the market when it first sold at Christie’s in 2006, and its appreciation over 10 years is testament to the unwavering longevity of superb pictures, and to the enduring strength of the art market as a whole. 

The Post-War and Contemporary Day sales followed, realising a combined total of $61,462,250. Bidding was confident throughout, with international clients present in the saleroom, online, and on the phone. Exceptional prices were realised for works by artists including Jean Dubuffet, Julie Mehretu, Gerhard Richter and Alexander Calder, while new records were set for artists John Currin, Jonathan Horowitz, Giuseppe Gallo, Bruce Conner and Harold Ancart

An online-only sale of Andy Warhol works, Pop Meets Chic, totalled $787,625. Offered from the collection of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the sale featured more than 100 works, including the artist’s early commercial illustrations and Polaroids of celebrities and fashion figures. A 1966 screenprint of Warhol’s iconic Cow  was the top lot, achieving $106,250, against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-70,000. 

A second online-only sale of Picasso Ceramics achieved $1,776,250, and was 100 per cent sold by lot — the seventh online sale of Picasso Ceramics in a row to achieve the feat. The top lot for the sale was Picasso’s Vase aztèque aux quatre visages (A.R. 402), which realised $100,000. There was tremendous competition for the sale’s 101 lots, which saw strong interest from collectors in both the U.S. and Asia. 



Claude Monet (1840-1926), Meule, 1891. Oil on canvas, 28⅝ x 36¼ in (72.7 x 92.1 cm). Sold for $81,447,500 on 16 November 2016

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Meule, 1891. Oil on canvas, 28⅝ x 36¼ in (72.7 x 92.1 cm). Sold for $81,447,500 on 16 November 2016

The week saw Christie’s leading the market for Impressionist and Modern Art, with sales in the category totalling $280,951,000. Highlights included masterpieces such as Claude Monet’s Meule (Grainstack), which sold for $81.4 million, achieving the highest auction price of the week — a new world auction record for the artist — and in doing so becoming the highest price for a work of art at auction in 2016. A world auction record was also set for Kandinsky’s Rigide et Courbé, which sold for $23.3 million. 

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas, 44⅞ x 63⅞ in (114 x 162.4 cm). Sold for $23,319,500 on 16 November 2016

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas, 44⅞ x 63⅞ in (114 x 162.4 cm). Sold for $23,319,500 on 16 November 2016

Also leading the sale was Picasso’s Buste de femme (Dora Maar), sold for $22.6 million. Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa emerged as the work’s buyer, in yet another example of the growing trend towards cross-category collecting. The Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper and Day Sale reached a combined total of £32.8 million, presenting collectors and dealers with the chance to acquire works by the era’s greats, with strong prices paid for works by Joan Miró, Henri Edmond Cross and Le Corbusier.

Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and Principal Auctioneer commented: ‘We have worked hard to broaden our buyer base in recent years and this commitment is helping to create more competition in Christie’s salerooms around the globe. As a result, we posted new world auction records for three titans of modernism: Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky and Willem de Kooning.

‘Our day sales also generated great global competition and very strong sell-through rates. In spite of uncertainties caused by both Brexit and the U.S. elections, the art market reacted very positively, prices were firm, and Christie’s continued to deliver to our clients. This has been a very satisfactory week and we look forward to strong sales in Hong Kong at the end of November. In 2017, Christie’s will continue to broaden and enhance its global outreach with exhibitions in new premises in key cities, as we encourage more collectors to engage in this exciting market.’

Coming in May 2017

Property from Cleveland Clinic generously donated by Mrs. Sydell Miller will be offered during 20th Century Week in May 2017, with all proceeds benefiting Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute. This collection will include a selection of eight Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary artworks including Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise dans un fauteuil (estimate: $15-25 million) and Roy Lichtenstein’s Expressionist Head (estimate: $2.5-3.5 million). A global tour of highlights from the collection will start in February at Christie’s London prior to the New York sale. More details of the collection and global tour will be announced in February 2017.