Bloomberg previews the Rockefeller sales this week with a teaser article about the online sales action but the most interesting part of the piece is the way it ends with Christie’s Rebecca Wei outlining the tastes of her Chinese clients. It’s rare to see a Senior figure at an auction house say something anything but upbeat about one the top lots coming up for auction. But in the case of Gertrude Stein’s Picasso, there may be no need for caution. There’s been a lot of talk in the trade, some of it coming from the owner of a number of Picassos that the Rose period Picasso could sell for a great deal more than the $100m low estimate.
That interest is likely to come from buyers in the Gulf States or the owner a private museum than from Chinese clients. Christie’s Rebecca Wei explains why:
“The big whale clients want the top-top pieces only by Tier 1 artists,” said Wei, listing Picasso, Matisse, Claude Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin and Paul Cezanne. “They like bright colors. Women need to be beautiful in the paintings.”
Top on their list, she said, is a sensual 1923 Matisse canvas, “Odalisque couchee aux magnolias.” Estimated at $70 million, it will probably set an auction record for the French artist, whose current high is $48.8 million.
Picasso’s 1905 “Young Girl with a Flower Basket,” which depicts a pale, nude teenage girl with a basket of red blossoms, may be a tougher sell, Wei said.
“I had so many top collectors looking at the piece, saying ‘Mmm… I don’t know, she has a haunted look — I like the Matisse much better.’”