Auction Report: Sotheby's Solid in Second Night of Fall Sales
There are a lot of happy Chagall owners around the world this morning.
While the new high for the artist ($28.4 million for 'Les Amoureux', a painting depicting the artist hugging his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld) is probably the biggest takeaway from last night's Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale at Sotheby's, it's certainly not the only story as we all sip our coffee this morning.
Despite there being a certain feeling of lethargy in the room, there was definitely excitement buzzing on the phones. After losing out to a Russian bidder (also via phone) for the aforementioned Chagall piece, Sotheby’s Asia chairman, Patti Wong secured a remarkable number of lots for what by all accounts seemed to be a single buyer from China.
Overall, the sale brought in a solid- though unspectacular- $269.7 million for the house; smack in-between the low estimate of of $204.1 million and the high estimate of $295.2 million. However, the sale did boast a very strong sell-through rate of 92 percent with 57 of the 64 lots finding buyers.
It looks like we'll have to wait until the results of Sotheby's Post War & Contemporary sale on Thursday evening to truly judge how the house will fare this fall. But unless something goes horribly wrong with a certain Leonardo at 20 Rockefeller Plaza tonight, it appears as if Christie's will have more to celebrate come the weekend.
News You Need to Know
Oh Jesus: Speaking of that Leonardo, there's only one piece of news that you need to know about for today. Jerry Saltz, in his incendiary piece for New York Magazine (and currently the third most viewed article on the site as of this writing) goes on a full-blown rant about how the painting bears little resemblance to the artist's original, both in technique and outcome. In fact, the article disparages Christie's for even presenting the work, since in Saltz's opinion, the offering is practically a counterfeit.
While we at 'The Canvas' are certainly not art historians (and neither by his own admission is Saltz), we know enough to say that Christie's 'Salvator Mundi' can't be so easily dismissed out-of-hand. Words matter- especially when they're written for a more generalized audience like that of New York Magazine. And the word on the street is that there are a whole lot of staffers at the auction house who have taken significant umbrage at Saltz's piece.
It'll definitely be interesting to see how this one plays out between the 250 year old auction house and the well known and widely read art critic. But one thing's for sure- assuming 'Salvator Mundi' does indeed find a new home tonight, it's highly unlikely that the buyer will be a regular New York Magazine reader.
If you're looking for a more detailed play-by-play of last night's sale, check out Judd Tully's recap on his personal blog, Nate Freeman's report for ArtNews, or Bryan Boucher's piece for Artnet.
New York judge Edgardo Ramos has ordered Mana Contemporary, the art storage facility based in New Jersey, to turn over the entire 1400 piece art collection belonging to the powerful Mugrabi family after the two parties became embroiled in a dispute over fees. James Miller has the full recap of the ongoing controversy for The Art Newspaper.
Andrew Chow, writing for the New York Times, announces that Olga Viso, the "embattled" leader of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is stepping down after ten overwhelmingly successful years at the helm of the museum.
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