Art Market

Christie’s will offer a $20-million Nicolas de Staël painting in Paris.

Nate Freeman
Jul 12, 2019 3:42PM, via Christie’s

Nicolas de Staël, Parc des Princes (Les grands footballeurs), 1952. Est. €18 million–€25 million. © Christie’s Images Ltd, 2019.

A day after David Zwirner dropped the news that he will open a Paris gallery to establish a continental beachhead in post-Brexit Europe, Christie’s announced that a high-profile work will be sold at its Paris salesroom during October’s FIAC fair, and not two weeks earlier during the London sales that typically coincide with the Frieze art fair—usually the most prominent fall sales week in Europe.

The work in question is Nicolas de Staël’s painting Parc des Princes (1952), which is estimated to sell for between €18 million and €25 million ($20.2 million–$28.1 million). Kept in the estate of the artist’s heirs since 1955, it is expected to smash the abstract painter’s auction record, which currently stands at $12.1 million, set in May 2018 at Christie’s New York.

In a statement, Pierre Martin-Vivier, who is the 20th century international director at Christie’s, said:

It is such a joy to present this historical and monumental painting in Paris during FIAC. Parc des Princes is a masterpiece by de Staël, a work that challenged the pictorial idiom of the post-war period. We believe that the art market will respond with the same enthusiasm which drives us.

On one level, it makes complete sense that this painting would be offered in Paris. The Russian-born de Staël spent most of his life in France and the painting depicts a soccer match between the French and Swedish national teams taking place in Paris’s beloved Parc des Princes stadium.

But a work offered at this price point would have been one of the most expensive lots of the Frieze London sales, and for it to be offered at Christie’s Paris—which has not in past years sold such high-profile works during FIAC—represents another sign that Paris is gaining prominence as England prepares to exit from the European Union. (The current plan has a no-deal Brexit scheduled for October 31.)

The sale will happen at Christie’s Paris salesroom in the 8th arrondissement on October 17th, the day after FIAC opens to VIPs at the Grand Palais.

Nate Freeman