Carol Vogel likes Sotheby’s better:
The spirited bidding on Wednesday night was in stark contrast to Christie’s bloated sale the evening before. At that auction, 14 of 44 works went unsold, and it made only $60.4 million, barely above the low estimate.
Sotheby’s chose not to fill its sale with mediocre material as Christie’s did, and instead offered fewer works of higher quality in the hopes that they might be irresistible to those buyers who still have expendable cash in this economy. “If something had a shred of quality, it went romping away,” Thomas Gibson, a London dealer, said after the Sotheby’s sale.
Kelly Crow thought the sale was sleepy but a commenter calls her out:
I am sorry Kelly – but there was no way that you were at the auction tonight – I was – and the sale began with an electric pace – with bidding left, right and centre right the way through the proceedings. Given that so few lots were left unsold (albeit it was a smaller sale than in the last few years) and those that did sell made very good prices, I wonder whether you were really there. I expect better of the WSJ.
Judd Tully spied Kim Heirston buying a Giacometti bust:
A Giacometti bronze, Buste D’Annette VII (1962), from a petite edition of 2, sold to New York art adviser Kim Heirston for £1,273,250 (est. £1.2–1.8 million). “It was a great price,” said Heirston moments after the sale. “I was looking at a few Giacomettis in Basel, but they were posthumous casts. This one is a lifetime cast.”
Everyone saw Samir Traboulsi buy Picasso’s Man with a Sword but Scott Reyburn homed in on the other late Picasso:
Picasso’s similarly-dated 1968 canvas of a female nude, “Nu debout,” with a height of 6 foot 5 inches (2 meters), was also fresh to the auction market, having been in the same European collection since 1972. It sold to a telephone bidder for 4.3 million pounds, just exceeding the high estimate.
“Late Picasso is an entry point into contemporary art,” said Philip Hook, Sotheby’s senior specialist in Impressionist art, after the auction. “There’s a lot of crossover. Contemporary collectors buy late Picasso.”
He also spoke to the buyer of the Hepworth:
Barbara Hepworth’s stone sculpture “Three Standing Forms,” dating from 1965, was bought in the room by Alan Hobart, director of the London-based Pyms Gallery, for 780,450 pounds, just above the low estimate. Neither sculpture had appeared at auction before.
“The market held up well for what they had,” Hobart said in an interview. He purchased the Hepworth for a client. “The only reason the sales are thin is that auction houses are not guaranteeing works. Sellers were spoiled with guarantees. We need to get some natural flow back into the market.”
And an underbidder for the Monet winter scene:
“It had been seen before, but it was still a good painting,” said Hector Paterson, a London-based art adviser, who was one of the underbidders on the Monet. “I’ve got international clients who are prepared to buy. They’re just being very cautious at the moment.”