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Picasso Musketeer Tops Sale By Sotheby

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« on: June 25, 2009, 11:25:25 am »

                                          Picasso Musketeer Tops Sale by Sotheby’s

The NYTimes
June 24, 2009

— In a crisp, 50-minute sale Wednesday that was choreographed for today’s tastes, Sotheby’s managed to sell more than $55 million worth of Impressionist and modern art. Though the auction featured just 27 lots, the smallest number of works in a comparable evening sale here since 1997, bidding was consistent, and a late Picasso fetched $11.5 million, the top price of the evening.

The spirited bidding on Wednesday night was in stark contrast to Christie’s bloated sale the evening before. At that auction, 14 of 44 works went unsold, and it made only $60.4 million, barely above the low estimate.

Sotheby’s chose not to fill its sale with mediocre material as Christie’s did, and instead offered fewer works of higher quality in the hopes that they might be irresistible to those buyers who still have expendable cash in this economy. “If something had a shred of quality, it went romping away,” Thomas Gibson, a London dealer, said after the Sotheby’s sale.

The evening totaled $55.3 million, in the middle of its estimate of $44 million to $61 million. Just 4 of 27 works failed to sell. Still, Sotheby’s, like all the auction houses, had trouble getting material. Ever since the fall, when these companies sharply curtailed their practice of giving sellers generous financial incentives, they have been struggling. With the price of art lower, collectors for the most part don’t want to part with a prized painting, drawing or sculpture unless they have to. By contrast, last year’s equivalent sale at Sotheby’s brought $201.2 million.

Capitalizing on the current fashion for late Picassos, created in part by recent exhibitions at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, the National Gallery in London and the Grand Palais in Paris, both Christie’s and Sotheby’s sales this week featured the artist’s images of musketeers holding swords. This theme of swashbuckling men captured Picasso’s imagination during the last years of his life.

Sotheby’s “Man With a Sword,” painted on July 25, 1969, was being sold by John Tolleson, the Dallas financier, who bought it from Landau Fine Art, of Montreal, for what experts say was around $6 million. On Wednesday two bidders were interested, and it wound up going to Samir Traboulsi, a Lebanese financier who lives in London, for $11.5 million, in the middle of the estimate of $9.9 million to $13.2 million.

Like Christie’s musketeer, which was bought for $9.3 million on Tuesday by the Nahmad family, dealers with galleries in New York and London, Sotheby’s painting had been included in an exhibition in Avignon, France, in 1969-70. But Sotheby’s canvas — a musketeer posed against a dramatic red and black background — was used as the image for a poster advertising the show, and it was a far stronger composition than Christie’s painting, which was executed a day later.

Final prices include the commission to Sotheby’s: 25 percent of the first £25,000 ($41,000), 20 percent of the next £25,000 to £500,000 ($41,000 to $825,000) and 12 percent of the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.

“Man With a Sword” wasn’t the only late Picasso for sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday. “Standing ****,” a monumental 1968 canvas depicting a voluptuous woman, carried a high estimate of $6.6 million, and it sold for $7 million to a telephone bidder, one of four potential buyers.

The evening also featured a group of three sculptures by Alberto Giacometti. Prices for the artist have been up and down depending on quality; at Christie’s on Tuesday, a work by him made $1.6 million. On Wednesday his work did much better than that. “Buste de Diego (Aménophis),” a bronze head of the artist’s brother cast in 1955, drew four bidders, ultimately going to one on the phone for $5.6 million, more than its high estimate of $4.9 million. Another bust of Diego, this one using painted plaster and made from 1951 to 1954, also went to a telephone bidder, this time for $4.5 million, well above its high estimate of $2.4 million.

A bronze bust of the artist’s wife, Annette, cast in 1963, didn’t perform as well. Kim Heirston, a private art adviser in New York, bought it for $2.1 million, above its low estimate of $1.9 million.

The sales this week also demonstrated that the appetite for classic Impressionist paintings, seen at the New York auctions last month, remained strong. On Wednesday Sotheby’s had Monet’s “Road to Giverny in Winter,” an 1885 landscape that was being sold by the International Art Center, a company owned by the Nahmad family. Three bidders sought it, and it sold for $6.3 million, just below its high estimate of $6.6 million. (At Christie’s Monet’s “At Parc Monceau” went for $10.2 million, Tuesday night’s top seller.)

“It was clever not to have any too many lots,” said David Juda, a London dealer, standing outside Sotheby’s after the sale, “and the work was relatively good.”
« Last Edit: June 25, 2009, 11:28:42 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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