Art Market

An auction of works by Les Lalannes shattered records and expectations.

Christy Kuesel
Oct 25, 2019 4:05PM, via Sotheby’s

François-Xavier Lalanne, Rhinocrétaire, 1991. Sold for €5.4 million ($6 million). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

A Sotheby’s auction of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne’s work in Paris shattered records and drew billionaire bidders, resulting in a white glove sale with 100 percent of works sold. Overall, the sale brought in €91 million ($101 million), nearly four times the pre-sale high estimate of €23 million ($25 million). According to Sotheby’s, the two-day auction was the highest total for a private collection sold in France in 10 years, and a record for a Sotheby’s sale in France.

The top lot was a copper rhinoceros-shaped desk by François-Xavier from 1991, imaginatively titled Rhinocrétaire (Rhinodesk), which brought in €5.4 million ($6 million), far surpassing its high estimate of €1 million ($1.1 million). Claude’s world auction record was broken with the sale of Grand Choupatte (2012), a bronze cabbage on chicken legs, for €2.1 million ($2.4 million). Ninety-six percent of the lots auctioned over the two-day sale surpassed their high estimates, and 26 lots sold above $1 million.

Claude Lalanne, Choupatte (Très Grand), 2012. Sold for €2.1 million ($2.4 million). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

High-profile collectors like Jose Mugrabi, an Israeli businessman and prominent Andy Warhol collector, and Antoine Arnault, son of luxury goods mogul and mega-collector Bernard Arnault, were in attendance, according to The Art Newspaper.

Florent Jeanniard, head of 20th century design at Sotheby’s Europe, said in a statement:

The Lalannes’ oeuvre has a universal appeal which was reflected by the enormous excitement the sale generated around [the] globe. The auction which gathered over 4,100 collectors from 43 countries is a huge tribute to the whimsical genius of the couple.

Claude and François-Xavier, better known as Les Lalanne, created whimsical sculptures of animals, often transformed into functional metal objects. They frequently used monkeys, rabbits, and sheep in their work. Claude died in April and François-Xavier died in 2008.

Christy Kuesel