Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening sale in London came in under expectations last night with £87.5m in sales where both top lots, a Picasso portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter from 1932 and Giacometti’s cat previously owned by the Brody family in Los Angeles, sold for prices that fit with the tone of recent sales in the category.
The sale was down about a third over the previous year’s event with the very top lots accounting for much of the shrinkage, although in this year’s outing there was a good £20m in lost sales volume due to buyers just not showing up.
The Impressionist and Modern market remains both selective and top-heavy but last night’s sale also seemed to fit into some recent themes where the very top works failed to spark interest. As with the New York cycle of sales, bidders focused on particular works that were not necessarily the most highly valued.
The Picasso sold for £27m ($36m) which is a price in line with recent sales of similar works from the same year like the smaller but more striking Le Repos which Sotheby’s sold for a similar price in May. Although Phillips generated a much higher price ~$57m for another 1932 work just a few months before in London, it is not an uncommon pattern to see very strong prices followed by a declension as successive sales satisfy existing demand rather than generating new buyer interest.Continue Reading