Ebsworth Collection Makes $323m
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
The Barney Ebsworth collection wrapped up with a day sale of $5.23m with the majority of the top ten lots selling for multiples of the high estimate and only one unsold lot out of the 49 offered. Ebsworth’s well-known eye seems to have benefited the lower priced lots across the board. The Evening sale’s total of $317m was driven by the strong sale of Ebsworth’s Edward Hopper painting, Chop Suey, which made $91m once the third-party guarantor received his or her rebate for making the early commitment. The buyer remains unknown but Christie’s hints that the work would be on display for the public in the future had several collectors speculating the buyer was Alice Walton for her Crystal Bridges museum in Arkansas.
The other big ticket items by Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns all sold for prices at or near the low estimates reflecting both the strong estimates and Christie’s advance work to secure third-party backers and bidders.
Imp-Mod Estimates Battle Buyers
The Impressionist and Modern sales totaled $368m for Sotheby’s and $355m for Christie’s, no small business. The very visible failures of a $40m van Gogh at Christie’s and a $30m Marsden Hartley at Sotheby’s may have given the sales the feeling of coming up short. Each house seemed to choose different path toward a similar result. Christie’s relied heavily on Picasso and Monet, the market stalwarts even if bidders were reluctant to meet the seller’s expectations. Sotheby’s, on the other hand, moved toward a different body of primarily Expressionist work but the firm wasn’t willing to defend its sell-through rate at all costs.
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