On Wednesday, Sotheby’s closed its contemporary art day sale in Paris realizing a total price of €4.4 million. The sale’s 82 lots by postwar European artists saw a 90% sell-through rate. Many of the lots hail from the collection of Dr. Herbert Kiel, a French enthusiast of mixed-media works by European avant-garde artists. The works were coming to market for the first time having been held in Kiel’s private collection since the 1970s-80s.
Among the group on offer was postwar Italian artist Mimmo Rotella’s 1962 collage work Sexy sold for €218,750 ($246,275), landing at the high end of its pre-sale estimate of €200,000 ($225,166). Rotella was known for his assemblages using advertisements. The Austrian experimental painter Hermann Nitsch’s red and black abstract monochrome Olberg from 1960, which the owner acquired from Cologne’s Galerie Borgman in 1983, went for a staggering €396,500 ($446,391), more than ten times its pre-sale low estimate of €30,000 ($33,774).
The second highest selling lot was by Spanish artist Manolo Valdes, titled Reina Mariana; it met the low estimate at €125,000 ($140,728). Victor Vasarley’s Crissa failed to find a buyer at an estimate of €100,000-150,000 ($112,583-168,874); as well as Asger Jorn’s untitled work valued at €80,000-120,000 ($90,066-135,099).
At the mid-value section of the sale, Marlene Dumas’ Life Before Birth sold for €87,500 ($98,510), between its estimate of €70,000-100,000 ($78,808-112,583.) Christo‘s Paquet, a board mounted assemblage of fabric and rope from 1961, brought in €131,250 ($147,765) meeting its high estimate of €100,000. Chilean artist Roberto Matta’s Ping Pong Mao from 1971, a large scale work featuring yellow figures playing a game of ping pong went for €112,500 ($126,655) against an estimate of 70,000-80,000 ($78,808-90,066). The work came to auction after having been in only two private collections since it was first acquired from the artist’s studio.
Elsewhere in the sale, La Table de Ben, a mix-media work sculpture made in 1961 by Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri, known for his “snare-pictures”, first acquired by Kiel from Paris’ Galerie Mathias Fels in 1973 was one of the few works that exceeded its high estimate. The sculpture achieved a total selling price of €150,000 ($168,874) more than doubling its high estimate of €60,000 ($67,549). Gerard Deschamps’ Siri Ya Furaha Haionekani, another assemblage work from the same acquisition featuring fabric collaged on canvas completed in 1962 also went for €68,750 ($77,400), far surpassing its estimate of €15,000-20,000 ($16,887-$22,516). French conceptualist Yves Klein’s La Terre Bleue went for double its low estimate of €25,000 ($28,145), reaching €52,500 ($59,106).