Nov 12
News

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.

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.

Top lots:

  • 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.

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.

Further Reading: 8 Lots That Could Ignite Bidding Frenzies at the Fall Auctions in New York