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:
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.