The sales at Christie’s over the last two nights have put the issue of aggressive estimates squarely at the center of the question about the Impressionist and Modern market’s strength. Are there substantial buyers in this collecting area who simply feel the sellers are setting the bar too high? Or has the quality of the material on offer begun to suffocate the market?
Colin Gleadell added a pre-emptive comment on this issue in his Telegraph column about one of tonight’s star works:
Sotheby’s has placed some imaginative estimates on a collection of early 20th century modern works – “imaginative’’ because comparable examples have been so rare on the market. Volucelle (literally, a brightly striped species of fly) is a wonderfully jazzy, 8ft abstract painting by Francis Picabia, an artist associated in turn with Impressionism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Picabia’s post-Cubist/Dada period, from 1913 to the early Twenties, is considered the most significant historically, and his present record is still the $4.16 million set in 1990 for a 1913 painting from his Dada period, which dealers think would now be worth $10 million. Nothing like it has come up in the intervening years, and Sotheby’s reckons the 1922 Volucelle should make between $6 and $8 million.
Art Sales: Records Set to Tumble in New York (Telegraph)