Although the November sales were shy of top-end works as vendors remain cautious during the lockdown, the overall take was respectable with a good number of individual works performing relatively well.
Christie’s did not hold an auction, having shifted its calendar last year with the autumn Modern British evening sale moving to January.
Sotheby’s (25/20/13.9% buyer’s premium + 1% overhead premium) sale raised £5.65m with 110 of the 145 lots (76%) sold. Top lot was the 20 x 14in (51 x 35.5cm) oil on canvas board Jug with Bottles by Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) which included his tipple of choice, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Painted at Chartwell in 1930, it was given to the American railway heir Averell Harriman who served as a special envoy to Europe in the 1940s. It was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1997 for $165,000 (£100,815).
Offered with a £150,000-250,000 guide at the timed-online auction that closed on November 17, it was knocked down to a US private collector at £800,000, the fourth-highest price at auction for the war-time prime minister and amateur artist.
Bonhams’ (27.5/25/20/14.5% buyer’s premium) sale on November 18 was a live auction but with no clients permitted in the room (bidding was conducted via phone, internet and commissions). It generated a total of £3.58m with 60 of the 70 lots sold (86%) sold.
The auction was led by a fine view of the Old City and Cathedral in Ronda, Spain by David Bomberg (1890-1957) from 1935 that sold above estimate at £640,000. It was also bought by a US private collector.
Read more about Churchill's painting here.