The Master, Judd Tully, pays attention to Sotheby’s China specialist Xin Li as she bid on works all night long. Ms. Li confused auctioneer Tobias Myere during the sale when she jumped bids three times during the battle for Monet Vétheuil painting. Li offered $4.5 million when the previous bid had been $4.1m. Meyer wrongly assumed she was trying to offer $4.15m.
Li’s bidder, who may have been the same bidder that she represented in November who tried a similar strategy of jumping bids on several works including a Picasso, scared off the competition:
Though Xin Li was the underbidder for her client on several top lots, she won two works, including Salvador Dali’s wind-swept landscape Spectre du soir sur la plage, which sold for $5,682,500, squarely within its $4-6 million estimate. It was a new record for the artist, clipping the previous mark, set at Christie’s New York back in May 1990, when his Assumpta corp uscularia lapislazulina, 1952, made $4,070,000.
Xin Li’s bidder also snared Claude Monet’s panoramic view of the Seine, Fin d’Apres-Midi, Vetheuil, 1880, for $6,242,500, nearly doubling its $3.5 million estimate and absolutely demolishing the $1,682,990 figure it sold for at Christie’s London in November 1992.
Tully also paid close attention to the sculpture buyers:
Many collectors’ appetites seemed to be huge, with one anonymous telephone bidder buying up four sculptures — three bronzes by Auguste Rodin and one early Isamu Noguchi — assembling a rather decent sculpture collection in about an hour’s time, for $22,058,000.
Carol Vogel talked to a major market maker who was impressed–and not so impressed:
After the sale, as the crowd milled outside Sotheby’s, everyone was pleased with the results. “I was surprised, because the material was good but not great,” said José Mugrabi, a Manhattan dealer. “The market is more solid than ever.”
Bloomberg‘s Lindsay Pollock and Philip Boroff suggest the market is smaller than many suspect:
“It seemed like there were three phone bidders and they were buying everything,” said art adviser Gregory Kuharic. “There wasn’t much pinging and ponging in the salesroom.”
A Sober Follow-Up for a Record Auction Night (New York Times)