SERIOUS levels of demand emerged for works at the very top end of the art market as this month’s flagship Impressionist and Modern art auction series raised a combined hammer total of £225.8m, massively up on the £108.8m for the equivalent series last year.
Giacometti at Sotheby's was just one of a
number of works at the series that demonstrated a renewed
confidence among both buyers and sellers of top-end art.
While the record-breaking sculpture came to Sotheby's from the
Dresdner Bank in Germany, an important landscape by Gustav Klimt
(1862-1918), which went missing during the Second World War, was
consigned to the same saleroom after the auctioneers brokered a
restitution agreement between the anonymous owner and the heirs of
the Viennese collectors Paula and Viktor Zuckerkandl.
Estimated at £12m-18m, it drew four bidders and sold on the
telephone at £24m.
Sotheby's also had Paul Cézanne's (1839-1906) oil-on-paper
Pichet et Fruits sur une Table, which was being sold by a
Although it had failed to sell at Sotheby's New York in May 2001
against an estimate of $14m-20m, it sold here at £10.5m to a
telephone buyer, just above its £10m low estimate.
These three works helped Sotheby's to a £130.5m hammer total for
their evening sale, the highest ever for an auction staged in
This result was well above the £69.1m-102m pre-sale estimate and
substantially ahead of rivals Christie's Impressionist and Modern
evening sale on February 2, which made £66.7m and included £8.51m
from the 38-lot Art of the Surreal sale.
Top lot at Christie's was the 1963 Tête de
Femme (Jacqueline) by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) that was
consigned by the daughters of the Chicago collectors Kenneth and
Bernice Newberger, who had been victims in the Bernard Madoff
With a £3m-4m estimate, it attracted six bidders, including
Russian buyers, but sold to a UK private telephone bidder at
Russian interest also emerged on Natalia Goncharova's
(1881-1962) Espagnole from c.1916, which was knocked down
to a telephone bid via a member of Christie's Russian art
Consigned by a Swiss collector who had owned it since the early
1980s, it sold for a record £5.7m, the highest price for a painting
by a female artist.
With serious levels of demand again emerging at the very top of
the market, the overall amount of money raised at the Impressionist
and Modern series was £225.8m, massively up on the £108.8m for the
equivalent series last year.
By Alex Capon