The 2017 Fall Auctions: Christie's Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale- November 14th Edition

Auction Report: Christie's Begins the Week with Strong Sales
The 2017 fall auctions kicked off at Christie's last night with an impressive opening at the 250 year old auction house. The sale's total of $479.3 million beat the pre-sale high estimate of $476 million and sold through a very respectable 88 percent (60 of 68 lots on offer). 

While the mood in the room was mainly quiet, there were clearly a few moments that injected the crowd with excitement and anticipation. The sale's top lot was Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 landscape, “Laboureur dans un champ” which ended up selling for $81.3 million (with the buyer's premium) to a buyer represented by Rebecca Wei, the head of Christie's Asia. 

Other top lots included Fernand Léger’s 1913 piece from his “Contraste de formes” series which sold for $70.1 million (an all-time high for the artist) and Picasso’s 1954 canvas “Femme accroupie (Jacqueline)” which went for $37 million (both including fees). 

Overall it was a very successful night for Christie's, and one that top executives should be toasting to throughout the week. The total for the sale far surpassed previous years ($246.3 million in November 2016 for instance) and was the second highest for the Impressionist & Modern department in the house's history (second in place only to the famous November 2006 sale when Oprah bought that Klimt). The house continued to rely less on costly guarantees to secure consignments, six artist records were set, and the top ten lots all sold for over $10 million dollars a piece (with six going for over $20 million).

Sounds like good justification for Mimosas at 20 Rockefeller Plaza this morning. But let's see what Leonardo has to say on Wednesday night before we break out the champagne. 

News You Need to Know

Genocchio Out: As you by no doubt know, Ben Genocchio is out as director of The Armory Show after Robin Pogrebin's bombshell report in the New York Times. Armory Show management wasted no time in ousting the short lived director from their ranks. Reports of alleged sexual harassment go back as far as his time as editorial director at Louise Blouin Media. Deputy director, Nicole Berry has now assumed the mantle of NY's premier art fair. [New York Times]

Lost in The Berkshires: Massachusetts Appeals Court judge, Joseph Trainor put a stop to the planned sale of 40 works of art at Sotheby's this week- including a couple of multi-million dollar Norman Rockwells. While 'The Canvas' is sensitive to the difficulties propelling the Berkshire Museum board to sell its treasures and certainly wishes them well, we agree with His Honor that the art should remain in place for the time being. It is hoped that an amicable resolution is achieved by all parties in the near future. [Artnet News]

Frieze Doubles Down: The powers that be at Frieze decided that one day of catering to the one percent wouldn't suffice. So this year, lucky collectors will have a full second day to privately peruse the gallery's top tier offerings. While 'The Canvas' wonders why a working formula would be tampered with, we can attest to the preponderance of museum group tours that peppered the famous white tent at the 2017 iteration of the fair. Granted, those same tour groups were also the ones dodging the overhead leaks stemming from last year's infamous torrential downpour, but we digress... [ArtNews]

Further Reading
Susan Lehman writing for The New Yorker provides a few never-before-reported details in the Alec Baldwin/Mary Boone saga that was settled last week for seven figures. 

Who robs from a museum and then tries to mail the pieces back? That's what investigators are trying to piece together after two Carolee Schneemann photographs (reportedly valued at $105,000) were stolen from MoMA PS1 only to be mailed back a few days later. Any idea who the woman in the photograph is that the NYPD released? 

A must watch video from the Christie's marketing department featuring people's reactions to seeing Leonardo's 'Salvator Mundi' for the first time (keep your eyes out for a certain other Leo at around the 3:00 minute mark). 

Openings & Current Exhibitions

Martin Kippenberger at Skarstedt Gallery 

David Smith at Hauser & Wirth

Robert Bordo, Nancy Brooks Brody, Lena Henke, and Caitlin Keogh at Bortolami Gallery

Nina Chanel Abney at Jack Shainman Gallery

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