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The 10 best results on the London art market in 2010

[19/08/2010]

Every fortnight Artprice provides you with a new or updated ranking in its Alternate-Friday Top Series. The theme of today’s TOP article is the 10 best auction results in London this year.

The 2010 results at the top end of the art market show a very substantial recovery vs. 2009 due mainly to the presentation of a number of exceptionally rare works.
The work at the root of this recovery is undoubtedly Alberto GIACOMETTI’s L’homme qui marche I which fetched £58m ($92.5m) in February versus a pre-sale estimate of £12 – 18m. Since then, new records have been frequent and the two auction majors have posted substantial increases in revenue (+46% for Christie’s and + 116% for Sotheby’s). However, in spite of the apparent prosperity of the London sales, particularly in June, there have also been a number of disappointments…

Top 10: London sales 2010

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Alberto GIACOMETTI $92 521 600 L’homme qui marche I 02/03/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
2 Pablo PICASSO $45 814 900 Portrait d’Angel Fernandez de Soto 06/23/2010 (Christie’s London)
3 William TURNER $40 211 100 Modern Rome-Campo Vaccino 07/07/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
4 Gustav KLIMT $38 284 800 Church in Casson-Landscape with… 02/03/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
5 Édouard MANET $29 674 000 Portrait de Manet par lui-même, en buste 06/22/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
6 Gustav KLIMT $24 754 825 Frauenbildnis (Portrait of Ria Munk III) 06/23/2010 (Christie’s London)
7 André DERAIN $21 513 650 Arbres à Collioure 06/22/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
8 Paul CÉZANNE $16 749 600 Pichet et fruits sur une table 02/03/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
9 Pablo PICASSO $15 961 320 Le baiser (1969) 06/23/2010 (Christie’s London)
10 Henri MATISSE $15 578 850 Odalisque jouant aux dames (1928) 06/22/2010 (Sotheby’s London)

Modern art, a safe investment
Giacometti’s l’Homme qui marche I appears to have triggered a new phase in the art market after a year and a half of crisis.
In fact, at the same sale on 3 February, Sotheby’s also sold Gustav KLIMT’s Church in Casson – Landscape with Cypresses for twice its low pre-sale estimate. At £24m, the work generated a new record for a landscape by the artist. The Sotheby’s sale continued in the same vein with Paul CÉZANNE’s still life Pichet et fruits sur une table. Having failed to sell in 2001 against a pre-sale estimate of $14-20m, it fetched £10.5m (est. £10-15m) taking 8th place in this ranking.

Sotheby’s posted more historic sales at its Impressionist & Modern Art sale in June, notably for 3 star lots also present in our top 10: an extremely rare Édouard MANET self-portrait, Portrait de Manet par lui-même, en buste (only 2 self-portraits by the artist are known to exist) which fetched its low estimate of £20m ($29.6m). Although the hammer price for this masterpiece was a new auction record for Manet and represented 20% of the sale’s total revenue on 22 June 2010 (£98.87m), Sotheby’s had hoped to fetch as much as £30m …
André DERAIN’s Fauvist work, Arbres à Collioure, also inspired bidders with its complex and eventful background (originally owned by the art collector Ambroise Vollard, it spent four decades in a bank safe) and fetched £14.5m, adding £7m to the artist’s previous record. Henri MATISSE’s 1928 painting l’Odalisque jouant aux dames (1928), only just reached its low estimate of £10m ($15.5m), a price which nevertheless takes 10th place in this top 10.

To keep up with its rival, Christie’s needed good results on 23 June and indeed the sale was relatively successful with three hammer prices taking 2nd, 6th and 9th place in this ranking.
But the best of these, Pablo PICASSO’s formidable blue period absinthe drinker, Portrait d’Angel Fernandez de Soto, only just got past its low estimate at £31m ($45.8m), despite its declared high estimate of £40m and hopes for a substantially higher result… On the same day, Christie’s sold Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Ria Munk III for £16.7m within its pre-sale range (£14-18m). Returned to the owner’s heirs in 2009, the work is one of the three portraits ordered by Aranka Munk, the model’s mother.
The third, Picasso’s Le Baiser, was acquired in 2003 for £2.5m and sold this time for £10.8m (against an estimate of £8-12m).

Sotheby’s Old English Masters sale in London on 7 July 2010 proposed Joseph Mallord William TURNER’s Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino. Offered by the family of Archibald Rosebery, the work demolished its previous record fetching £26.5m (estimated £12-18m). This result clearly reflected the prestige attention given to the artist by a major exhibition devoted to the British artist: Turner and the masters at the Tate Britain (Sept.09 – Jan.10) and at the Grand-Palais in Paris (Feb.– May 10) and acted as a formidable stimulant for the market.

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