A keenly anticipated 20th Century season opened at Christie’s New York with the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, which realised $399,041,000 / £306,954,615.
An array of masterworks from a number of leading private collections — including those of S.I. Newhouse, Drue Heinz, Dorothy and Richard Sherwood and H.S.H. Princess ‘Titi’ von Fürstenberg — inspired bidding that resulted in the auction being 86 per cent sold by lot and 96 per cent by value.
Watch a replay of the sale in full — for all results, see below
Two of the top three prices were achieved for works from The Collection of S.I. Newhouse, a man David Geffen once described as ‘the greatest collector in the world’. Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, a still life painted between 1888 and 1890, came out on top, selling for $59,295,000 (including buyer’s premium).
In second place was another work from Si Newhouse’s collection — Arbres dans le jardin de l’asile by Vincent van Gogh. The painting, which was executed in October 1889 during the artist’s stay at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, was acquired by the collector in 2004. Fifteen years on, it sold for $40,000,000, contributing to a collection total of $$216,287,500.
Completing the top three on the night was Amedeo Modigliani’s Tête, one of just 26 surviving sculptures by the artist. Carved directly from a block of limestone in circa 1911-1912, the mask-like head sold for $34,325,000.
The collection assembled by Drue Heinz, the philanthropist, long-time publisher of The Paris Review and literary patron, included Amedeo Modigliani’s Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), which sold for $25,245,000.
Around 10 minutes later, Pierre Bonnard’s La Terrasse ou Une terrasse à Grasse soared past the artist’s previous world auction record before realising $19,570,000. All 11 works from the collection sold in the evening sale, before further works across the week took the total to $81,683,000, with a dedicated collection sale still to come in London.
Balthus’s 1939 masterpiece, Thérèse sur une banquette, led the selection of three works from The Dorothy and Richard Sherwood Collection. The painting, which hung in the couple’s Beverly Hills home for 60 years and appeared on the catalogue cover of the Met’s 2013 Balthus exhibition, realised $19,002,500, a new world auction record for the artist. The collection realised $30,645,375 across the week.
From The Collection of H.S.H. Princess “Titi” von Fürstenberg, Picasso’s La Lettre (La Réponse) is one of a trio of large, refined portraits the artist made of his wife, the ballerina Olga Khokhlova, in the early months of 1923. The Princess inherited the painting, which realised $25,245,000, from her mother, Sarah Campbell-Blaffer, one of Texas’s leading supporters of the arts as well as a collector and connoisseur of paintings.
The selection of Impressionist and Modern paintings and works on paper from the collection realised $49,349,250, with additional works in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Morning Session taking the final total to $52,740,750.
The first evening sale of the season in New York also saw the launch of The Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Family Collection, with three works totalling $13,527,000, led by Camille Pissarro’s Le Jardin d'Octave Mirbeau, la terrasse, Les Damps, which sold for $6,177,000. Two days later, a dedicated selection opened the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, contributing to a collection total of $174,485,000.
Works from The Collection of Frederick A. and Sharon L. Klingenstein totalled $14,653,000 in the evening sale, led by Edouard Vuillard’s La table de toilette, which realised $7,993,000.
The top lot of the Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper Sale, which realised $12,847,375, was Pablo Picasso’s Femme nue couchée ($1,239,000) and was included as a part of The Collection of Norman and Grete Granz.
Other top lots included Picasso’s Buste de femme couchée ($1,155,000), Marc Chagall’s L’Ecolier ($759,0000) and Picasso’s Les amants à la plage ($759,0000). The Norman and Grete Granz Collection concluded with a total of $5,694,000, which included Picasso’s Baigneuses et crabe, which sold for $1,455,000 in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale.
The Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale totalled $27,182,500, with the top price achieved for Tamara de Lempicka’s La Sagesse, an oil on panel work from 1940-1941 that sold for $1,215,000. Edvard Munch’s Kystlandskap, an oil on canvas from 1904, realised $1,035,000 as part of The Collection of H.S.H. Princess ‘Titi’ von Furstenberg, while Camille Pissarro’s Les dunes a Knokke, effet de soleil achieved $1,005,000.
The online auction of Picasso Ceramics was 100 per cent sold, and totalled $1,575,500, which took the season’s total for Impressionist and Modern Art to $440,646,375.