Sotheby’s has withdrawn the bronze cast of a back by Matisse from tonight’s sale ending a game of chicken between the foundation and buyers. The rumored private market prices was $200m for the complete set. Auction house officials claim there was substantial interest from parties for particular works in the series which may have motivated a buyer to come closer to the asking price. Then, again, Christie’s was call consignors yesterday afternoon to lower reserve prices and the foundation might have realized they risked souring the entire set with a bad sale tonight. Either way, the Burnett Foundation’s goal was to monetize the sculptures to fulfill its mission which does not include investing in art. A sale at any price substantially improves the foundation’s ability to fulfill that mission.
Here’s Sotheby’s statement on the matter:
Yesterday afternoon, The Burnett Foundation withdrew Henri Matisse’s masterpieces, Les Nus de Dos (The Backs) from auction at Sotheby’s in order to conclude a private sale transaction brokered by Sotheby’s on the entire group of 4 sculptures. Both the buyer and the purchase price will remain confidential.
Update: Carol Vogel calls the selling price at $120 million.
Sotheby’s Sells Suite of Four Matisse Scupltures (Arts Beat/New York Times)