Strong works see Paris impressionist, modern and contemporary sales holding up
Records set, despite trend for reduced estimates
By Anna Sansom. Web only
Published online: 16 December 2009
paris. Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art sale on 9 December in Paris generated €10.8m, exceeding its €6.7m-€9.5m estimate. The star sale was Les Acrobates, 1935, by Francis Picabia to a European collector for €774,750, against an estimate of €350,000-€500,000, followed by Fernand Léger’s Contrastes sur Fond Rouge (Contrasts on a Red Background), 1952, estimated at €450,000-€650,000, selling for €696,750. New records were broken for Dora Maar and Léon Spilliaert. Maar’s 1936 portrait of Picasso sold to an American collector for €480,750, soaring past its €120,000-€180,000 estimate. It was one of eight lots sold from Pierre Leroy’s modern and contemporary art collection that made €902,050 against an estimate of €435,000-€630,000. Spilliaert’s 1911 self-portrait, estimated at €180,000-€200,000, sold for €300,750, and five bronzes by Edgar Degas fetched a total of €939,000. They included a dancer (est €200,000-€300,000), which sold for €276,750. The surprise success was a 1942 self-portrait by Balthus from the estate of Pierre Matisse in New York that fetched €180,750 against an estimate of €30,000-€40,000.
Sotheby’s contemporary art sales on 8 December in Paris also did well, making €10.6m, far surpassing its €6.1m-€8.4m estimate. The results show that Sotheby’s strategy of favouring strong works with prestigious provenance has paid off. The topliner was Peinture, 27 Février 1954 (Painting, 27 February 1954), by Pierre Soulages. Estimated at €600,000-€800,000, it was bought by a European collector for €888,850, and Jean Dubuffet’s Le Village Fantasque (The Fantastic Village), 1964, estimate €200,000-€300,000, sold for €624,750. Günther Uecker’s Energetic Bilds Feld (Energetic Picture Field), 1930, set a new record for the artist, selling to a dealer for €444,750, against an estimate of €120,000-€180,000. Jeff Koons’s Elephant (Purple), 1999, which the artist had donated earlier this year to the Fondation Claude Pompidou, was sold for €400,000 (estimate €300,000-€400,000), excluding the buyer’s premium, to raise funds for the construction of a hospital in Nice, which will include an Alzheimer’s disease research centre, called Institut Claude Pompidou.
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