After a disappointing sale at Sotheby’s on Tuesday night, which failed to reach its low estimate, Christie’s delivered a stronger showing Wednesday. The sale’s £128.1 million ($168.3 million) total after fees sat squarely within it’s presale estimate of £96 million to £134.5 million ($126.5 million to $178.2 million), and restored some confidence in the London market going into next week’s sales of postwar and contemporary art.
Thirty-seven of the 44 lots found buyers for a sell-through rate of 84%—by comparison, only 26 lots of the 36 on offer at Sotheby’s sold during its equivalent auction for a sell-through of 72%. All results include the buyer’s premium, while the pre-sale estimates do not.
The solid showing at Christie’s was buoyed by two lots that saw bidding take the hammer well above of their high estimates. A new record was set for German Expressionist painter Franz Marc when Drei Pferde (1912) soared past its £3.5 million ($4.6 million) high estimate to sell for £15.4 million ($20.3 million). The buyer was a U.S. collector on the phone, according to industry newsletter The Baer Faxt.
Another welcome surprise came 21 lots into the sale, when a Rodin bronze conceived in 1885 and cast in 1890 sold for £12.6 million ($16.6 million), nearly double its high estimate of £7 million ($9.2 million). The Art Newspaper reported that the buyer of the Rodin was on the phone with Sotheby’s Asia vice-president Elaine Holt, and that Asian interest accounted for a third of all bidding Wednesday, according to the department.
The night’s top two lots were:
- Claude Monet’s La Gare Saint-Lazare, vue extérieure (1877), which reached just under £25 million ($32.9 million) above an unpublished low estimate of £22 million ($29 million) but short of the high estimate of £28 million ($36.9 million).
- Pablo Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteuil (Dora Maar) (1942) went for £19.3 million ($25.5 million) just ahead of its £18 million ($23.7 million) low estimate. The Picasso was the sale’s cover lot and one of only two works Christie’s had guaranteed. By comparison, three quarters of the lots at Sotheby’s sale Tuesday had guarantees.
The London auction continues with day sales at Christie’s Thursday, and Postwar and Contemporary sales that begin Tuesday June 26 and run through the week.