The theme of the evening was relief. Midway through the sale, when yet another lot was bid close to the low estimate only to be bought in, the audience let out a groan of frustration to which auctioneer Christopher Burge responded with a genial, “I know.” It was easy for Burge to make light of the 36 passed lots because Christie’s was able to sell their guaranteed lots.
Kandinsky, Gris, Giacometti and several of the Picassos sold. Lindsay Pollock has this quote on Bloomberg:
“There was actually quite a positive mood in the room,” New York private dealer Christopher Eykyn said.
The Master, Judd Tully, has this:
“There’s still a little life left in this market,” said Christie’s CEO Edward Dolman moments after the sale, “and I think that’s what people should be concentrating on.” Of the guaranteed lots, the standout star was Gris’s rare and widely admired Cubist masterpiece from 1915, Livre, pipe et verres, which sold to New York dealer Franck Giraud of Giraud Pissarro Segalot for a record $20,802,500 (est. $12.5–18.5 million).
“It’s a fantastic picture,” said Giraud, moments after the 90-minute sale. “But I was surprised there was competition. It could have been cheaper!” The dealer said that he was bidding on behalf of an American collector “who wanted the picture for a long time and brought it home.” Reflecting a widely held belief among the trade, Giraud added, “It shows that the market is intelligent and there’s a lot of competition for rare things. If it’s a replaceable item, you can wait for another time when it may be cheaper.”
And Carol Vogel this:
The bidders on Thursday were controlled and careful, but Christie’s executives seemed much relieved afterward, having sold the works in which they had large financial stakes. “There’s still a great deal of money left in the art market,” said an optimistic Christopher Burge, Christie’s honorary chairman in America and the evening’s auctioneer. “But we have to look at a new, reduced price level.”