Sotheby’s Breaks Ceiling Achieving Highest Total For Any London Auction

Sotheby’s has achieved the highest total for any auction ever staged in London. The Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sales Totalled £194.7m / $240.8m / €227.6m The sale was led by Gustav Klimt’s Luminous Bauerngarten which achieved £48m / $59.3m / €56.1m, the third highest price for a work sold in Europe and a record price for a landscape by the artist. Five lots sold for over £10 Million which puts the year off to a good start after reports in Artprice that 2016 was down in sales of works in this price range by 50%.

“Tonight’s outstanding result is a new benchmark for London sales”

Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “Tonight’s outstanding result is a new benchmark for London sales as much as it is a statement on the momentum of the global art market in 2017. The success of tonight’s sale lies in reading the market to know what buyers are looking for, and Sotheby’s having been entrusted by our clients with extraordinary works. This, combined with the pent-up market demand for works of such extraordinary caliber, propelled global buying in our saleroom – particularly from Asia – and it was wonderful to experience on the rostrum.”

Sotheby’s London, 1 March 2017: Sotheby’s Evening Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art and Surrealist Art at Sotheby’s London totalled £194,753,500 (est. £150.3-197.6m) – an increase of 108% (GBP) / 78.5% (USD) from the equivalent sale last year – with a sell-through rate of 88.9%.

Gustav Klimt’s Luminous Bauerngarten - Third Highest Price for Any Work Sold At Auction in Europe -
Gustav Klimt’s Luminous Bauerngarten Third Highest Price for Any Work Sold At Auction in Europe

Klimt’s Bauerngarten 1907 came to the market having remained in a private collection since 1994 and was most recently exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art London in the highly acclaimed ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ exhibition. A further work by Klimt, Girl in the Foliage saw heated bidding and doubled its high estimate selling for £4m / $5.3m (est. £1.2-1.8m) to the Gustav Klimt Vienna 1900 foundation.

Pablo Picasso’s Plant de tomates of 1944
Pablo Picasso’s Plant de tomates of 1944

A further highlight of the sale was Pablo Picasso’s Plant de tomatoes of 1944, which was hotly contested by four bidders and soared above its high estimate to sell for £17m / $21.1m / €19.9m (est. £10- 15m). Painted days before the Liberation of Paris, his series of five paintings of a tomato plant in the apartment he shared with Marie-Thérèse are ripe with personal, political and cultural significance. This is the most complex and visually striking example of the most sought-after series of the war period. The last sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1976 for $198,000, the work had been in a private collection for four decades. The total achieved for eight works by Picasso over the course of the evening was £54.7m / $67.7m (est. £35.6m-51m), with three of these selling for above £10 million including the monumental Femme nue assise, which sold for £13.7m / $16.9m (est. £9.5-12.5m).

Contra-Composition VI, 1924 by Theo van Doesburg, founder and leader of the radical Dutch artistic movement ‘De Stijl’, was acquired for the permanent collection of the Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden, Netherlands. The painting, which sold for £1.6m / $1.9m (est. £1.2-1.8m) was acquired with the support of the Rembrandt Association, who deemed it a work of particular national importance.

The Surrealist portion of tonight’s sales was led by René Magritte’s Souvenir de voyage, which sold for £3.4m / $4.2m (est. £2.5-3.5m). A further strong price for the artist, Le repas de noces made its auction debut and fetched an above-high-estimate £2m / $2.5m (est. £900,000-1,200,000) – the finest gouache by the artist to appear on the market in recent times.

Further Notable Prices Included:

Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of Baranowski sold for an above high-estimate £16m / $19.8m (est. £10-15m).

Paul Gauguin’s Te Arii Vahine – La Femme aux mangos (II) soared above high estimate to £8.4m / $10.4m (est. £7-10m).

A Record for a work by Alfred Sisley: Effet de neige à Louveciennes sold for an above-high- estimate figure of £7.4m / $9.1m (est. £6-8m).

A Record for a work by Oskar Kokoschka: Orpheus und Eurydike sold for £3.3m / $4.1m (est. £1.6-2m) following bidding battle.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Vier Akte unter Bäumen, appearing at auction for the first time, brought £5.4m / $6.7m (est. £3.5-5m).

From the renowned Collection of Lord & Lady Attenborough: Auguste Rodin’s Penseur, petit modèle sparked a bidding battle and sold for an above-high-estimate £1.6m / $1.9m (est. £800,000-1,000,000).

A Record for Jean Arp: One of the first three-dimensional works that the artist produced, Torse made its auction debut at £3.3m / $4.1m (est. £2.5-3.5m).

From the collection of French furniture and jewellery designer Rose Adler, who was gifted the work by the artist and designed the Art Deco frame, Francis Picabia’s Ino sold for £1.2m / $1.5m (est. £500,000-700,000).

Paul Delvaux’s dream-like Filles au bord de l’eau sold for £2.3m / $2.8m (est. £1.7-2.2m)

– With four bidders battling for Joan Miró’s Femme devant le soleil, it sold for over double its high-estimate ar £620,750 / $767,619 (est. £200,000-300,000).

Sale Overview:

42% of the works had never previously appeared at auction

Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist pre-sale estimate: £150.3-197.6 / $185.9-244.3m /


Participation from a record 38 countries – with a significant increase in the number of

participants from leading regions Asia, US and UK compared to last year.

Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale follows tomorrow with an estimate of £19.2-27.3m/ $23.7-33.7m/ €22.8-32.4m.

Following: Giacometti’s Walking Man I – £65,001,250 (sold at Sotheby’s London, February 2010)

and Rubens’ The Massacre of the Innocents – £49,506,648 (sold at Sotheby’s London, July 2002).


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