Since our last report, a $2 million Chagall, a $10 million Cezanne, another $3 million Pissarro, and a $20 million Monet all failed to sell. Renoir’s beautiful Portrait de Nini made $5.5 million, within the estimates range, but his portrait of Louise Benzel made only $3.4 million, more than half a million below the low estimate.
The Surrealists were, quite rightly, all over the place. A delightful Dali miniature sold for $542,500 (see image left), well within its estimate, but a strange little statue of his failed to sell. A Klee was below estimate, but a Jean Arp work and one by Rene Magritte both climbed above the minimum bar.
The second half of the evening didn’t see any improvement for Picasso. His Nus Masculins sold for $1.8 million, well under the $2 million pre-sale minimum estimate, and Le Modele dans l’atelier was bought in.
A total of $224 million was paid — and a quarter billion can’t be a bad haul in these straitened times. But still, a lot of canvas didn’t get on the moving van. The catalogued minimum for the show didn’t include the Malevich (sold for $60 million), Munch’s Vampire ($38m.) or Danseurs au repos ($37m.) Deducting those amounts from the take leaves just $89 million actual against the minimum estimate of $218 million for the balance of the catalogue. Not so great.
Update: The New York Times today has a review of the sale that comes to much the same conclusions as me. However, it includes good details about price guarantees the auction house has to honour to its cost, and the “irrevocable bid” — the only bid, in fact — that pushed Malevich to such heights.