After the fall auction season kicked off in New York on Tuesday, consecutive sales of modern art and works by Christie’s from the collection of the late Texas oil mogul Edwin L. Cox have grossed $ 751.9 million. dollars Thursday.
The two sales reached a collective sales rate of 95%, 77 of the 81 lots offered having found buyers. Almost half of the auction lots were secured with financial support; 34 works of the sale had guarantees. The Cox collection far exceeded its expectations of $ 178.6 million, generating a total of $ 332 million. Likewise, the 20th-century art evening sale topped its low estimate of $ 324.3 million, grossing $ 419.9 million.
Christie’s auctioneer Adrien Meyer took the podium on Thursday to lead the first part of the night’s two-part auction, the results of which thrilled the auction public. He passed the hammer to veteran auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen to direct Part Two. Compared to Tuesday’s fairly subdued contemporary art auction, Thursday’s 3.5-hour two-part event saw a livelier turnout from crowds and scholars due to the enthusiasm for the artists. Long-standing impressionist works from the Cox Collection. Most of the prized paintings had not been seen in public for 50 years.
Van Gogh stars in the Cox collection
The work that won the highest prize in the Cox collection was the work of van Gogh Wooden huts among olive trees and cypress trees (Wooden huts among olive trees and cypresses), an 1889 landscape painting of a group of olive trees. Estimated at $ 40 million, the job topped its estimate with nine bidders between New York, London and Hong Kong, bringing the hammer price to $ 62 million. It went for a final price of $ 71 million to a bidder in the room.
The same buyer, bidding with paddle number 619, won another bid for the sale of works by van Gogh. Four bidders competed for Wheat Stacks (1888), a work on paper depicting an outdoor scene of yellow haystacks in Arles, France, where the painter spent his last days before his death. The landscape scene, which sold for $ 35 million, was offered as part of a tripartite restitution settlement. It was sold under duress by its original German Jewish owner and looted from another in the years leading up to WWII. The proceeds of the sale go to the heirs of Max Meirowsky, Alexandrine de Rothschild and to the representatives of the Cox estate.
Another work by van Gogh offered in the collection of the Texas magnate caused a stir. Young man with blueberry (1889), depicting a red-haired young man holding a blue flower by the stem in his mouth was completed a few weeks before the artist’s death and had been part of the Cox collection since 1981. Two bidders on the phone with Conor, specialist in 20th century art Jordan and Hong Kong President Elaine Holt battled for work. After a long break between the two specialists, the work hammered Jordan’s bidder and sold for $ 46.7 million. The result, which drew cheers from the public, was nine times the estimate of $ 5 million. Another successful work in the sale was that of Gustave Caillebotte Young man at his window (1876), sold for $ 53 million to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The result set a new record for the French artist.
Warhol Tops 20th Century Art Evening Sale
The work that obtained the highest price during the second part of the night was the oxidized orange portrait of Andy Warhol by Jean Michel Basquiat from 1982. Coming up for sale with a guarantee, it was sold from the collection of Peter Brant. A bidder on the phone with New York President Alex Rotter triumphed over Isabelle de La Bruyère, Christie’s international director, to win the work, which sold well above her estimate of $ 20 million for a final price of $ 40 million.
Another very expensive item was a 1961 Cy Twombly abstraction sold by banker-turned-art dealer Robert Mnuchin, who had the work for almost 20 years. Debuting at auction, it hit $ 32 million, falling below its estimate of $ 30 million.
A large-scale painting by Ed Ruscha, titled Wall (1967), hammered at its low estimate of $ 18 million, to a single bidder over the phone with Christie’s contemporary art specialist Sara Friedlander, for a final price of $ 20 million. The seller of the work was Houston art advisor Lea Weingarten, who abandoned her past as a convicted co-conspirator in the Enron fraud case in 2001 to work in the art world.
There was a long undervalued artist with a rapidly growing market who triumphed in the sale of Christie’s. Lee Bontecou’s untitled abstract work of welded steel, velvet and wire on canvas has sold more than four times its low estimate of $ 2 million, finding a buyer on the phone with the manager of the advising Christie’s client, Maria Los, for $ 9.2 million. This more than quadrupled Bontecou’s auction record of $ 1.9 million, which was broken in 2010 at Christie’s New York.
Later that evening, another portrait of Warhol exceeded expectations. The pop artist’s silkscreen painting of a boxing legend signed battle-ready Muhammad Ali sold for $ 18 million, four times the low estimate of $ 4 million.
Six of the lots offered in Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale were from the estate of Impressionist art collector Elene Canrobert Isles de Saint Phalle. The group included works by Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and James McNeill Whistler. From the collection, a rare self-portrait of Whistler produced between 1856 and 1960 sold for $ 1.2 million, more than double the high estimate of $ 800,000.
Museum disposals were on sale as institutions continue to review their permanent collections amid the pandemic’s relaxed restrictions. UCLA sold a cubist-style portrait of Picasso titled Profile (1930) for $ 7.3 million to raise funds for its acquisition fund. The Denver Art Museum was not so successful: that of Henri Matisse Young woman at sofa (1944), on record by the museum, did not sell for an estimate of $ 3 million.
Behind-the-scenes financial deals may have secured the fate of a number of works in this sale, but that did not detract from the dynamism of the auction. The auctions were well dispersed across New York, London and Hong Kong, as well as between the bidders present in the room.
After its season opener earlier this week, Christie’s managed to revive the auction circuit after a long pandemic hiatus wiped action-packed live sales from the market calendar. Hosting the sale in a refurbished venue with digital updates, the house further facilitated international auctions from Hong Kong and online, increasing competition among buyers. The moves paid off, and the upbeat atmosphere featured in Meyer’s remarks to the winning bidder of the latest van Gogh in the Cox collection. “No regrets,” he said, “you won’t find another anytime soon. “