This morning, Christie’s announced the auction of Fernand Léger work from 1913 that will set a new record for the artist, if this work that has never before been auctioned sells. The whisper number on the work is $65m, give or take, and it is being sold without a guarantee from the auction house or a third party. Clearly, the sellers are confident in the work’s market appeal.
The current top price paid for a Léger came in 2008 when La femme en bleu (study) from the same period made $39.2 million. Here’s Christie’s release explaining the work and its sale:
On November 13, 2017, Christie’s will present Fernand Léger’s Contraste de formes, 1913, the most important canvas by the artist offered at auction in several decades (estimate on request). This exquisite picture comes from Property from the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, and proceeds from the sale of this work will go towards the foundation’s philanthropic mission. Originally acquired from Léger at the end of 1913 by his dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Contraste de formes was bought in 1956 from Galerie Rosengart in Lucerne by Ludmilla and Hans Arnhold, an international banker and art collector. The Arnholds later bequeathed the painting to their daughter and son-in law, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen. Kellen was the CEO of the highly respected investment banking firm, Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, Inc., as well as a distinguished collector and passionate philanthropist. The Kellens were deeply captivated by Léger and his work, often visiting the Musée National Fernand-Léger in Biot, France, with their children and eventually their grandchildren. Contraste de formes was a cherished highlight of the Kellens’ collection and it enriched their New York home for over 40 years.
November 13 will mark the painting’s first time at auction.