That's More Like It
The Canvas loves the way Adrien Meyer says "Loic Gouzer" from the rostrum. He coos it gently off the tongue but infuses it with a mischievous smile when accompanying the name with the current bidding price of any given lot. Indeed, the Christie's Co-Chairman of the Impressionist and Modern art department led last night's sale to a resounding success; while remaining supremely cool throughout, and looking genuinely happy to be leading the proceedings. It was a marked change of tone from the preceding night's frustrations at arch-rival Sotheby's.
Of course, he had plenty to be happy about seeing as last night's sale saw only four passed lots (for a buy-in rate of 11%), set two artist records, and brought in a total of $415.8 million (with fees)- besting last year's May sale by nearly 50%.
Even without Picasso's "Le Marin", which was pulled from the auction after it was damaged over the weekend viewing at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters, the sale was an undisputed success and a shot of adrenaline to the market after Sotheby's bitterly disappointing Monday night sale. There was robust bidding from multiple parties throughout the night with Brett Gorvy of Lévy Gorvy winning the Kazimir Malevich painting "Suprematist Composition" for $85.8 million, and Loic Gouzer nabbing the Brancusibronze "La jeune fille sophistiquee (Portrait de Nancy Cunard)" for $71 million on behalf of an anonymous phone bidder.
Judd Tully captures the play-by-play of the room beautifully for his recap for ArtNews, and Tim Schneider's piece for Artnet is definitely worth a read as well.
For now, let The Canvas leave you- our loyal readers- with this not-so-provoking thought: The success of last night's sale had everything to do with there being interest from multiple buyers for almost every lot on offer. This injected the night with a continuing wave of momentum that rolled over from one artwork to the next. There was excitement in the room and it felt like an actual auction; with buyers heatedly contesting one another for the right to own the art at hand.
If the Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern department can only manage to eek out one or two bidders for many of their pieces (as was the case for a disturbing amount of their lots Monday evening) then what's the point of having an open auction at all? Give the consignments to Allan Schwartzman and Amy Cappellazzo and let them try and arrange a private sale. After all, based on Sotheby's most recent earnings report,private sales seem to be the one area in which the 274 year old firm can consistently beat its rival...
Five More Gallery Shows to See This Week
Jordan Wolfson at David Zwirner (533 West 19th Street)
John Baldessari at Marian Goodman Gallery
Allen Jones at Marlborough Contemporary
Dan Colen at Levy Gorvy
John Latham at Lisson Gallery (504 West 24th Street)
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