The Master, Judd Tully, found a bright spot in Christie’s dull action last night:
an anonymous, elegantly clad woman who, seated next to her lookalike daughter, calmly bought three major works for a cumulative mini shopping spree of $18,055,000. Taking cues from a cell phone glued to her ear, the bidder bought Amedeo Modigliani’s elongated portrait “La blonde aux boucles d’oreille” from circa 1918-1919 for $8,146,500, Picasso’s Dora Maar portrait “Femme assise” from 1938 for $5,122,500 (est. $4-6 million), and Tamara de Lempicka’s Art Deco-influenced 1931 portrait of a highly stylized couple, “Idylle (Le Depart),” for $4,786,500 (est. $3-4 million).
The Modigliani, for example, last sold at Christie’s New York in November 1985 for a hammer price of $528,000.
Buttonholed moments after the two-hour sale, just as she was wrapping herself in her glistening fur stole, the bidder declined to give her name but acknowledged the purchases were for a private collection. “We don’t have names,” she jested. “Au Revoir, merci.”
Christie’s partially identified the geographic location of the buyer in a post-sale summary, describing the origin as “South American private.”
Sarah Douglas and Dan Duray tried to get to the bottom of the sour mood in the room:
Helly Nahmad, of the New York gallery by that name, called the auction “fair at best,” and said the failed Degas, lot 18, set a bad tone for the rest of the evening. “People got scared to bid after the Degas wasn’t sold, it affected the whole mood of the sale,” he said. “I don’t think this is a market changer,” he said, of the auction. “I think this is just a hiccup.”
The strongest statement on the sale comes from Alberto Mugrabi who expressed some exasperation just as the sale was ending to Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina:
“The quality could not be any worse and the estimates could not be any higher,” said Alberto Mugrabi, a New York- based art dealer and collector. “This is what happens when you have the combination of these things.”
Impressionist and Modern Art Takes a Dive at Christie’s (Artinfo.com)