Picasso breaks record to soothe fears at Sotheby’s

8 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

One Man’s Art Collection Just Sold for (Only) $420 Million.

A Picasso picture of a cabaret artist, which carries a second painting on the reverse, sold for $67.45 million in New York Thursday, scoring a windfall for American billionaire Bill Koch.

NEW YORK (AP) — A nude portrait by Pablo Picasso brought in more than $67 million at Sotheby’s on Thursday, a day after the auction house sold $377 million worth of art from the estate of its late former owner. It was the top lot of the season so far, proving a savvy investment for the Republican party donor who paid just $3 million for the canvas in 1984 and later discovered he got two for the price of one.

The problem lay in the fact that Sotheby’s had reportedly guaranteed the sale of Taubman’s 500-piece collection (more art will be sold later) for an unprecedented $500 million. The guarantee, which was a record in the art world, came about because of a reported bidding war between Sotheby’s and its rival auction house, Christie’s. Sotheby’s also sold his Monet “Nympheas” (water lilies) study in oil for $33.85 million, clearing its minimum pre-sale estimate of $30 to $50 million.

Another highlight was a Vincent van Gogh, which sold for $54 million. “Paysage sous un ciel mouvemente” (moving sky over a landscape) was painted a year before the artist’s death and shows storm clouds over fields outside Arles, France. After the first two sales, Sotheby’s has yet to break even, prompting Chief Executive Tad Smith to issue a statement that he expects “to cover the Taubman guarantee in its entirety.” On Wednesday night, the first sale netted $377 million for 77 lots, barely above the night’s aggressive low estimate. And one of the finest works by Polish-Russian painter Kazimir Malevich still remaining in private hands, called “Mystic Suprematism,” sold for $37.8 million. The next day, a larger sale of 123 lower-priced lots netted $42.7 million, which came close to the high estimate. (Totals include buyer’s premiums, which are an additional fee that auction houses tack on to an object’s hammer price; the estimates do not.) Within the context of such lofty stakes, it’s true that the results could be considered lackluster.

A small van Gogh of a fat baby in a bonnet, “Le Bebe Marcelle Roulin” smashed its pre-sale estimate by selling for $7.64 million following a prolonged and frenetic bidding war. The next week sees Christie’s and Sotheby’s go head to head in auction sales six months after the spring season smashed a string of records and netted more than $2.6 billion for the rival auction houses. The most expensive lots this season are a sumptuous nude by Modigliani valued at $100 million, and a pop art masterpiece from Roy Lichtenstein estimated at $80 million.

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