A moody Magritte painting and iconic Futurist sculpture led the way at Christie’s auction of Impressionist and modern art in New York on Monday night. The sale marked the start of a week of auctions that is lacking major masterpieces and, according to a Bloomberg estimate, is down by about 24 percent over the equivalent week of auctions last year. Christie’s lead-off sale certainly reflected that downturn, bringing in a total of $191.9 million, way down from the $297.2 million haul from last year’s equivalent sale.
Though it didn’t quite crack the top three, Camille Pissarro’s proto-pointillist vision of a garden in bloom, Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps (1892), shot past its high estimate of $6 million to sell for a hammer price of $8.8 million, or $10.2 million with fees, making it the night’s fourth biggest lot. Despite such interest in a few standout lots, the sale was a decidedly routine affair. Of the evening’s 62 lots, four were withdrawn and six failed to sell—of those that sold, 21 went for hammer prices below their low estimates—making for a sell-through rate of 90 percent by lot.
The New York auctions continue with Christie’s day sales and Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and modern art on Tuesday.