A Futurist icon set a new record at Christie’s Impressionist and modern art auction in New York.
Umberto Boccioni, Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio (Unique Forms of Continuity in Space), 1913. Sold for $16.1 million. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.
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.
René Magritte’s Le seize septembre (1957), a large, tenebrous painting of a crescent moon floating within the outline of a tree’s silhouette, rose well above its high estimate of $10 million to sell for a hammer price of $17 million, or $19.6 million with fees. It was one of 13 works offered in the sale from the estate of the late Chicago collectors James and Marilynn Alsdorf.
Umberto Boccioni’s Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio (Unique Forms of Continuity in Space) (1913), perhaps the most iconic work created by a member of the Italian Futurist movement, sparked a long bidding war that quickly pushed the price past the lot’s high estimate of $4.5 million. It eventually sold for a hammer price of $14 million, or $16.1 million with fees, setting a new auction record for a work by Boccioni.
Pablo Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteuil (Françoise) (1948–49), one of nine Picassos featured in the sale, fell short of its low estimate of $12 million but still did well enough to be the night’s third-biggest lot. Its hammer price of $11.5 million came out to $13.3 million with fees.
Pablo Picasso, Femme dans un fauteuil (Françoise), 1948–49. Sold for $13.3 million. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.
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 Of the evening’s 62 lots, four were withdrawn and six failed to sell—of those that sold, 21 went for hammer prices below their low estimates—making for a sell-through rate of 90 percent by lot.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.