New York’s fall auction week kicked off Monday evening
with a strong $480.4 million sale of Impressionist and Modern art at Christie’s, the house’s highest total for the category in a decade. Driven by a record-breaking
painting and fervent bidding for a landscape by
, the auction brought in $416.2 million before buyer’s fees, on pre-sale estimates between $360 million and $476 million. Tuesday evening’s sale of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s brought in $269.6 million, a 71% rise from the prior year’s sale, but well short of rival Christie’s Monday night haul. Nearly all of the 64 works at Sotheby’s found a buyer (often in Asia), for a 92% sell-through rate by lot. But many of the works sold after just a few bids and for below their low estimates, including some of the bigger-ticket items. The spectacular result for the
painting at Christie’s post-war and contemporary auction Wednesday is likely best viewed as an entirely separate sale compared to the solid, but not jaw-dropping, results obtained by the evening’s actual post-war and contemporary art. Across Wednesday night’s sale, the sell-through rate was a solid 84% by lot. The total haul sans-Leonardo was $338.9 million, or $292 million before fees. Phillips posted solid numbers at Thursday night’s New York evening sale, ending at $114.8 million, or $96.3 million before fees, led by ’s Red House
(1995–96). Sotheby’s posted a solid contemporary sale Thursday evening as well, bringing in $310.2 million over 72 lots, or $267.4 million before buyer’s fees, with a notable 96% of lots sold. Bidding on many of the higher-end lots was thin, but a fair number of them—44 in all, or 61% of the sale—came with guarantees or irrevocable bids, suggesting that the auction house preferred to cut deals ahead of the sale rather than hold out for a little drama in the room.