The Block Report — what sold well this week
Harry Seymour continues his new weekly round-up of some of the star performers from the past seven days in Christie’s salerooms around the world. Here, five from week 11-18 April
Estimate: $15,000-20,000 / sold for $118,750 in New York
This Cartier charm bracelet was made in 1937 — the same year in which Disney’s film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was released — and features Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy and Snow White all present on the 14k gold chain. A version of it was even worn to the movie premiere by Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian. ‘It was an unusual partnership between Cartier and Disney that has never been repeated,’ says jewellery specialist Daphne Lingon, who explains that it was probably the bracelet’s whimsy that pushed the final price to almost eight times its low estimate.
Estimate: £35,000-50,000 / sold for £68,750 online
According to specialist James Baskerville, this etching by the British painter Howard Hodgkin, which is spread across five sheets of Moulin du Gué wove paper, is one of the world’s largest. ‘It measures more than six metres across,’ he explains. ‘The work’s stunning size helped it realise £68,750 at auction last week, setting a new world record price in the process for any editioned print by the artist.’
Estimate: €300-500 / sold for €6,000 in Paris
Carved during the 20th century and standing 16 cm high, this green granite vase came from the collection of the interior decorator Serge Royaux. According to Lionel Gosset, the auctioneer who sold the collection this week in Paris, there were bidders from 24 countries on the day. Royaux’s ‘perfect taste’ was typified by this lot, which went for 20 times its low estimate.
Estimate: £10,000-15,000 / sold for £93,750
Selling for more than nine times its lower estimate in an online auction, this Op Art oil on canvas from 1963 by the Polish painter Stefan Gierowski saw bidding from across Europe, says the specialist Anna Touzin. ‘It’s an exceptional work by the artist, who in 2016 and 2017 was included in two group exhibitions in Poland and Germany, and is really beautiful in the flesh. Its sale set a new record price for any work from this series.’
Estimate: $150,000-200,000 / sold for $483,000 in New York
The design of this necklace — which can zip into a bracelet — was patented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1938 and first presented in 1951. This one was made around 1955 from gold and platinum studded with rubies and diamonds. ‘These necklaces are rare at auction, especially the vintage ones,’ says jewellery specialist Angelina Chen. ‘This example’s beautiful Fifties aesthetic helped it sell for more than three times the low estimate.’
Highlights from previous weeks below
Estimate: £1,500-2,500 / sold for £40,000 in London
Selling for more than 26 times its low estimate — and more than six times the previous auction record for any work by the artist — James Lloyd’s charming gouache on paper of a boy nuzzling his pet bunny ‘caught the imagination of collectors’, says Alice Murray, Head of Sale for Modern British & Irish Art. ‘The work, which has been in the same private collection since 1973, is reminiscent of Lucian Freud’s portraits — intense and highly detailed.’
Estimate: $15,000-20,000 / sold for $75,000 in New York
This rug, measuring 2.5 x 1.5 metres, contains an inscription which indicates that it was made for the Palace of Heavenly Purity in the Forbidden City, Beijing. ‘The rug’s beautiful saffron, rust, and deep indigo dyes echo the earth tones of the palace,’ explains Christie’s specialist Bliss Summers. ‘It would probably have been used there to receive councilmen or emissaries during the early 19th century.’ The specialist explains that Chinese rugs are particularly rare at auction, which helped this important example achieve five times its low estimate.
Estimate: €50,000-80,000 / sold for €280,000 in Paris
‘This mask from Papua New Guinea is one of the best of its kind, plus it’s in perfect condition,’ says African & Oceanic Art specialist Bruno Claessens. ‘Added to that its brilliant coiffure was a big hit during the viewing.’ Little wonder then that this extraordinary object sold for more than five times its low estimate when it went under the hammer last week in Paris.
Estimate: £1,000-1,500 / sold for £7,500 in London
Ahead of the Interiors sale in London, this terracotta plate by the French artist Jean Cocteau was chosen by the interior design Beata Heuman to dress a house she had styled for a Christie’s photoshoot. According to specialist Nathaniel Nicholson, the ceramic’s imaginative design made it extra appealing, and could well explain why it realised more than seven times its low estimate.
Estimate: $15,000-25,000 / sold for $40,000 in New York
According to specialist Becky MacGuire, it’s because this bowl bridges East and West — with a tiger hunt shown on the exterior and a fox hunt depicted on the interior — that bids came in from China, America, a European Institution and a British art advisor. ‘It was a delight seeing it sell for more than double its low estimate,’ MacGuire says.
Estimate: €70,000-100,000 / Sold for €478,000 in Paris
Painted in 1919, Hébuterne’s woman in a hat reflects the influence of her husband, Amedeo Modigliani. Despite her career lasting barely three years — she committed suicide less than 48 hours after Modigliani’s death — ‘her talent is finally being recognised by the market’, says Christie’s specialist Valérie Hess. This new world auction record for the artist comes after the success of Hébuterne’s Autoportrait, which sold for €247,500 at Christie’s last year.
Estimate: HK$450,000-650,000 / Sold for HK$3,000,000 in Hong Kong
‘Zao Wou-Ki’s works are always being sought by clients,’ says Christie’s specialist Cindy Lim. ‘The estimate for Untitled was reasonable, but there was fierce competition and we had many bidders in the room and on the phone.’ The watercolour eventually sold for more than six times its low estimate. ‘I suspect this is because the work is in great condition, the colours are sublime, and it has lots of detail, which is rare for his post-2000 work,’ adds the specialist.
Estimate: €120,000-180,000 / Sold for €514,000 in Paris
The day after the largest Van Gogh show in Britain in nearly a decade opened at Tate Britain, this graphite sketch of a girl in profile from 1882, which was included in a 1985 exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum of Western Art, sold for more than €500,000 in Paris. It was consigned by the Old Master and 19th-century drawings collector Jean Bonna. ‘International collectors, who were in Paris for the Salon du Dessin drawings fair, showed strong interest in fresh-to-market works and those with prestigious provenance,’ said Christie’s specialist Antoine Lebouteiller.
Estimate: €80,000-120,000 / Sold for €200,000 in Milan
One of two works by Oppi in Christie’s Thinking Italian evening sale on 3 April, this painting was shown at the 1926 Venice Bienniale. Selling for more than double its low estimate, it set a new world record price at auction for the artist. ‘It’s great for Oppi, but I think also shows that historical figurative paintings are back in fashion,’ remarks Christie’s specialist Renato Pennisi.
Estimate: $10,000-15,000 / Sold for $47,500 in New York
Steichen’s portrait of the American actress Loretta Young, taken for Vanity Fair when she was aged just 18, shows her at the cusp of becoming a Hollywood star. ‘It's a haunting image with great tonality,’ says Christie’s specialist Shlomi Rabi. ‘Because this print is so strong — and it has never come up for auction before — it brought in a great result.’