Impressionist and Modern Art sales generate USD 291 million



The Impressionist and Modern Art sales held on 1 and 2 November by Christie’s and Sotheby’s respectively were a huge success. The two auction houses generated a total of USD 291 million from the sale of 110 of the 123 lots on offer.

The highlight of these auctions was the impressive sale at Christie’s of La blanchisseuse, a painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, for USD 20 million (compared with its estimation of USD 20-25 million). In addition to this transaction, three other records were broken on 1 November: USD 2.8 million for Théo VAN RYSSELBERGHE with Port de Cette, les tartans; USD 1.3 million for Hans ARP with Sculpture de silence, Corneille; and a record for a Henri LAURENS bronze.
Another splendid result was for a still life by Paul CÉZANNE entitled Pommes et gâteaux that fetched USD 9.2 million (compared with its estimation of USD 3.5-4.5 million). The second highest sale of the evening was for a version of Claude MONET‘s Nymphéas (1907) which was knocked down at USD 12.5 million and which fetched USD 10.5 million in 1989.
This result tends to confirm that prices for Impressionist works are at their highest. Moreover, paintings bought at the height of the 1989-1990 speculative bubble could now sell for a sizable profit.

Another Monet painting was featured at Sotheby’s auction on 2 November. Previously bought by a Japanese collector for USD 10.5 million on 15 November 1989, and estimated at USD 12-16 million this year, Le Grand Canal (1908), one of Monet’s 37 paintings of Venice sold for USD 11.5 million, i.e. USD 1 million more than its acquisition price. One of the records at the evening auction was for a painting by Berthe MORISOT, entitled Cache-Cache which went under the hammer at USD 4.6 million, i.e. USD 600,000 more than in November 2000.

Other than the results of the Impressionist artists, another highlight at Sotheby’s auction was the record for a work on paper by Pablo PICASSO entitled Yellow Nude (1907). Six bidders fought for this watercolour study for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Estimated at USD 3-4 million, it was Olivier Berggruen who finally acquired the work for USD 12.5 million.