The top 10 from Artcurial auction house



Fridays are the best! Every other Friday, Artprice offers you a themed auction ranking. This week, the leader of information on the Art Market discusses the most costly auctions of 2014 at the Artcurial auction house.

Artcurial is the largest French auction house and ranked 16th in the world in 2014. A few gavel strikes for more than 5 million have already marked the history of this auction house, for major artists such as Nicolas de Staël (fourth in this annual ranking), Lyonel Feininger and Jean-Michel Basquiat, but at price levels that remain rare in France. Modern and contemporary sales account for part of Artcurial’s most important assets, which holds a hundred sales each year.

The top 10 from Artcurial auction house
Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 HERGÉ $3,089,233 Pages de garde bleu foncé 2014-05-24 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
2 Pieter II BRUEGHEL $1,867,487 La danse de noces en plein air (1624) 2014-03-26 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
3 ZAO Wou-Ki $1,635,161 26.01.60 (1960) 2014-06-03 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
4 Nicolas DE STAËL $1,362,861 Plage (Paysage) (1952) 2014-06-03 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
5 ZAO Wou-Ki $1,294,786 05.06.99 (1999) 2014-06-03 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
6 HERGÉ $1,136,810 Les aventures de Tintin. L’Île Noire. Couverture 2014-05-24 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
7 Hugo PRATT $814751 Corto Maltese … et in Helvetia Corto 2014-05-25 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
8 Sean SCULLY $749,505 Harris (1991) 2014-06-03 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
9 Marc CHAGALL $685,647 Le collier bleu (1967-1968) 2014-12-01 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
10 Jan BOOTS $622,726 Allégorie de la Vue et de l’Odorat 2014-03-26 Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS
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Moreover, the company is focused on some specialties now recognised in the international scene, notably that of design, photography and comics. Artcurial imposes its world leadership on this last specialty created in 2005, as the original plates have been in high demand for the last dozen years. It organises two annual sales dedicated to comics. In fiscal year 2014, these sessions enabled Artcurial to achieve three of its 10 best annual auction sales.


The ninth art has brought itself up to speed with mixed media artists Hergé and Hugo Pratt in front. Hugo Pratt set a world record of EUR 597, (more than USD 814,000) in May 2014 for a lot of 25 drawings, and the best watercolours by Corto Maltese soared to more than EUR 200,000 apiece since 2008. European collectors fight over legendary figures for a small drawing by Georges Braque or Picasso. The year 2014 was also that of a world record for the most popular creator of the genre, Hergé. A gavel sounded at EUR 2.26 m (USD 3m) for a drawing made of Indian ink and watercolour, which gleefully tripled its low estimate (Pages de garde bleu foncé, or The Adventures of Tintin). The comic is worth millions – twice in two years for Hergé, who also holds two of the 10 highest sales from the Artcurial auction house. Hardly surprising to see such impressive results from Christie’s, who opened its own specialised department last year to take advantage of the trend.


Other important results were seen from the more expected names: Marc Chagall, Nicolas de Staël, Sean Scully, riding high on the popularity of all abstract American artists. They still reveal two ancient works from Pieter Brueghel II (c.1564-1637/38) and Jan Boots. These two Flemish artists are linked. Jan Boots worked in Peter Brueghel’s studio, replicating many of his paintings. Much less popular than the artists of the Brueghel dynasty, Jan Boots nevertheless carried off a record six-figure sale with Allégorie de la Vue et de l’Odorat (Allegory of Sight and Smell) done completely in the style of his mentor. At Artcurial, Jan Boots sold for EUR 450,500 last year (USD 600,000), vs. EUR 1.351m (USD 1.8m) for Pieter Brueghel, whose masterpieces are generally reserved for London sales and, to a lesser extent, New York.


The great Zao Wou-Ki appears twice in the Artcurial ranking. This Franco-Chinese artist – the most illustrious of all- is as sought after by French collectors as by Asian. A symbol of successful synthesis among the two cultures, the work of this friend of Pierre Soulages and Alberto Giacometti can go for more than USD 10m in Beijing (as occurred in December 2013 with an Abstraction from 1958, sold by Sotheby’s for double the estimation). A solid market investment, Zao Wou-Ki is still on the way up. In France, nine canvases have already passed the million euro mark, four of which only did so in 2014. Artcurial made this type of auction sale, the 8th highest French strike of the gavel for the artist.