Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary evening art sale in London pulled off an almost flawless performance to start the week
on Tuesday, notching the highest-ever total for any contemporary art auction held in Europe, to the tune of £137.9 million, including buyer’s fees. Only five of the 65 lots offered failed to sell, for a stellar buy-in rate by lot of 92 percent. Primed with appealing and largely blue-chip offerings, the art market continued to show strength and stability
at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale on Wednesday, bringing in £109.2 million after buyer’s fees with only three out of 58 lots going unsold. The tally, including fees, neared the high side of pre-sale estimates between £85.8 million and £118.7 million; the buy-in rate by lot was a slender 5.2 percent. The hammer total was £93.4 million. The evening total was roughly a 7 percent drop from last year’s £117.4 million result, including fees. Anchored by a stunning Picasso
painting and a ravishing Matisse
sculpture, Phillips’s 20th Century & Contemporary Art evening sale broke into the big leagues with the firm’s best-ever sale on Thursday night, which pulled in £97.8 million, nearly seven times its total from the previous spring sale in London. The hammer tally of £84.5 million, before fees, blasted past the high pre-sale estimate of £73.1 million. Picasso’s spare yet convincingly sensual La Dormeuse,
executed on March 13, 1932, in oil and charcoal on canvas and capturing sleeping beauty of his muse and mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, sold to an anonymous telephone bidder on the line with Marianne Hoet, deputy chairman of Phillips Europe, for a whopping £37 million (£41.8 million with fees), more than doubling its high estimate.