20th Century at Christie’s opened in London with two evening sales that realised a combined total of £136,874,958. On the night, 77 of the 84 lots on offer were sold and the saleroom was energised by registered bidders from 39 countries across five continents, with a notable increase in bidding from Asia.
The Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale (full results here) realised £94,306,000 (including buyer’s premium), and was 95 per cent sold by value and 92 per cent by lot. The sale was led by Paul Gauguin’s Te Fare (La Maison), painted in 1892 on the artist’s first visit to the island of Tahiti, which realised £20,325,000 against a high estimate of £18 million.
The second highest price was for Henri Matisse’s Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet, 1944, which sold for £8,453,000. Ten of the 50 works offered sold for in excess of £3 million.
The sale opened with 12 works from the Personal Collection of Barbara Lambrecht, which more than doubled their pre-sale estimates, led by Berthe Morisot’s Femme et enfant au balcon (1872) which sold for £4,085,000, and Les bords de la Seine au Petit-Gennevilliers by Claude Monet, which realised £3,525,000. The proceeds from these 12 pieces will contribute to the future of the Rubens Prize Collection held in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Siegen. The three paintings by Le Corbusier offered from the Heidi Weber Museum Collection realised a total of £9,343,000, with all three also eclipsing their high estimates.
The Art of the Surreal sale, now in its 16th edition, posted similarly stellar results, at 98 per cent sold by value and 91 per cent by lot. The headline was René Magritte’s La corde sensible, painted in 1960, which sold for £14,441,348. This almost doubled the previous world auction record for the artist, set in February 2014. Two lots later, Magritte’s La domaine d’Arnheim, once in the collection of Edward James, also easily surpassed the artist’s previous auction record, realising £10,245,000. Seven works in the sale achieved more than £1 million.
‘The exceptional provenance of the works was matched by an international passion for Surreal art in London,’ said Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman of Impressionist & Modern Art, afterwards. ‘Reflecting the highest quality of the works offered, the sell through rate of 98 per cent by value is the highest ever achieved.’
20th Century at Christie’s continues on 1 March with the Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper auction, and the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale.