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Kelly Crow had the big reveal for last night's sale at Christie's. The owner of the Monet grainstacks was a Colorado fund manager who made strong gains maybe because he bought before the big bull market in art started a dozen years ago:
Fourteen years. That’s how long famed Denver stock picker Tom Marsico owned Claude Monet’s pink-and-purple painting of a “Grainstack,” having bought it around 2002 when it was worth roughly $12 million.
Fourteen minutes. That’s how long it took for Christie’s to auction off Mr. Marsico’s masterpiece, as five collectors locked in a dogged bidding war pushed “Grainstack” to a final sale price of $81.4 million—breaking Monet’s record and sending a boost of confidence into the beleaguered art market overall.
If it was hard to price the Monet—they were looking for $45m and got nearly twice that—it was even harder to get a bead on where to put the estimates on the second lot of the evening. Here's Ermanno Rivetti:
Wassily Kandinsky’s late work Rigide et courbé (1935), which once belonged to Solomon Guggenheim, was the second artist record of the night, selling for £20.6m ($23.3m with fees) after some especially slow bidding which, at one point, was going up in $100,000 increments. The work, which was guaranteed by a third party, was eventually bought by a US adviser in the room. “This work was the most interesting pricing exercise I’ve done all year. We had no comparative work to go on; it’s utterly unique and has been off the market since 1964,” said Olivier Camu, the deputy chairman of Impressionist and Modern art for Christie’s Europe.
The next work was another surprise buyer, this time designated collector of the moment, Yusaku Maezawa. Here's Katya Kazakina on the buying from Asia:
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