“I think we’re seeing some price resistance at the very top end after seasons of escalating records,” said Brooke Lampley, vice chairwoman of the fine art division at Sotheby’s. “But broadly, we’re seeing that the market supports good material that is accurately priced.”
Buyers are clearly taking a long, hard look before raising their paddles, especially after the breadth of material offered last week at the sale of David Rockefeller’s estate at Christie’s.
The first lot of Monday night’s auction, ’s Fleurs de Printemps
(1930), augured a promising evening with frenzied bidding from 10 bidders in the room, including underbidder David Benrimon
. It ultimately sold for $2.1 million ($2.5 million with fees), clearing the $1.5 million high estimate. The very next lot, ’s Three Seated Women
(1942), also attracted a brouhaha, but not inside the saleroom. The piece was controversially consigned by the Berkshire Museum, one of two pieces in the night’s auction that attracted the ire of a dozen protesters who picketed outside Sotheby’s. Inside, the drawing sold far below its low estimate of $400,000, hammering at $240,000, or $300,000 with fees. (That the piece still went home with a buyer makes one wonder what, if any, reserve the work had.)