Sotheby’s made much of the international bidding in their Impressionist and Modern sale yesterday in London. According to the press release, bidders from 33 different countries participated in the sale. Scott Reyburn of Bloomberg caught some of that action on one of the night’s star lots, the Mondrian:
Piet Mondrian’s 1927 “Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue,” estimated at 4.5 million pounds to 6.5 million pounds, had not been seen at auction market since 1990. It drew competition from four phone bidders before falling to a client represented by Sotheby’s New York-based David Norman for 9.3 million pounds. A bidder in the room from India and a Chinese-speaking client on the telephone competed for the 1872 Monet painting “Le Pont de Bois” before it was knocked down to Sotheby’s New York-based staff member Brad Bentoff, representing a client. Sold from the collection of the late Gustav Rau to benefit Unicef, it had been estimated at 4 million pounds to 6 million pounds.
The Wall Street Journal’s Mary M. Lane paid attention to what the Chinese specialists were bidding on:
Mandarin-speaking telephone bidders showed a particular fondness for midprice works on paper by brand-name artists such as Pablo Picasso. Chinese bidders won a $661,762 Picasso drawing and two Egon Schiele works on paper for $661,762 and $567,784. A Chinese bidder also pushed up the price for “Embrace”—a late-period Picasso drawing on flashy red paper from 1971—to $4.9 million, well above its hefty $3 million estimate. The work sold to a telephone bidder via Claudia Dwek, a Sotheby’s specialist based in Milan.
Carol Vogel spoke to a frustrated art advisor who sees a strong market where there’s quality work on offer:
“It’s a super-selective but strong market,” said Mary Hoeveler, a New York art adviser who tried to buy several works on behalf of a client but only managed to get a 1965 watercolor by Miro for $906,105.
Judd Tully was alive to the action in lesser names like Claudel, Schwitters, Kupka and Surrealists like Ernst and Magritte. Catching a Magritte underbidder on the way out of the sale room, Tully recorded this:
“I bid towards the high estimate, but it didn’t help,” said Connecticut-based dealer/collector David Rogath as he hit the New Bond street sidewalk outside Sotheby’s. “I tried but I was blown away. It’s a great thing for a collector and it’s a bit frustrating for me but I understand why people bid more. The market is very strong,” he added.