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CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART NOV, 1, 2011 EVENING SALE
03 November 2011
Category : MARKET

Christie's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening  Sale held on November 1st 2011 in New York  achieved  $140,773,500  (£88,687,305/ €102,764,655),  with  three  works  of  art  selling  above  the  $10  million  mark. 

Despite  spots  of  selective bidding  throughout  the  sale,  Surrealist  works  and  modern  sculpture  performed  well  overall,  and  buyers competed  aggressively  for  rare  works  and  those  offered  fresh  to  the  market  from  private  and  museum collections.  Christie's offered the three top private collections this season, including the  Property From the Collection of Lew and Edie Wasserman, which totaled $8.5 million; The Collection of John W. Kluge, sold to benefit Columbia  University,  which  achieved  $4.9  million;  and  A  Distinguished  West  Coast  Collection,  which  realized $10.5 million. 

The  top  lot  of  the  sale  was  Max Ernst's  The  Stolen  Mirror,  a  Surrealist  tour-de-force  painting,  which realized  $16,322,500  (£10,283,175/€11,915,425),  setting  a  new  artist  record  that  more  than  tripled  the artist's previous record.  The Stolen Mirror, widely regarded as one of the artist's finest works, is a dream-like landscape painted in 1941 at the height of Ernst's most feverish output.   It  once  belonged  to  Edward James, one of the foremost early collectors of Surrealist art.  It was later re-acquired by Ernst's son Jimmy Ernst and descended through the family to the estate of Edith Dallas Ernst, which offered the work for sale. The painting was chased by multiple bidders in the room and on the phone, and ultimately sold to a European private collector. 

Early in the sale, Christie's realized a new world auction record for any single print sold at auction with the sale of Pablo Picasso's “La femme qui pleure,”, a drypoint, aquatint and etching on paper from 1938, which sold  for  $5,122,500 (£3,227,175/€3,739,425). The price far exceeded its pre-sale  estimate  of  $1.5-2.5 million, as well as the previous record for a single print, set in 2007 for Edvard Munch's Vampire II.  The print  inspired  a  spirited,  five-minute  bidding  battle  between  clients  in  the  room  and  on  the  phone, ultimately selling to an American trade buyer in the room.  The wrenching image of a weeping woman was developed in concert with Guernica, Picasso's landmark mural-sized canvas.  The artist gifted and inscribed the  work  to  the  poet  and  writer  Juan  Larrea,  who  would  later  author  the  authoritative  monograph  of Guernica in 1947.  

Leading the modern sculpture lots in the sale was Constantin Brancusi's “Le premier cri”, a polished bronze ovoid  work  conceived  in 1917  that  has  been  in  private  hands  for  35  years.  It  sold  for  $14,866,500 (£9,365,895/ €10,852,545) to a European private collector, soaring well beyond its pre-sale estimate of $8-10  million.  This  important  bronze was included in Brancusi's first museum exhibition,  a  comprehensive retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 1955, less than two years before the artist's death.

Continuing  the  recent  trend  toward  strong  prices  for  Surrealist  works,  the  third  highest  price  in  the  sale was  for  René  Magritte's  “Les  vacances  de  Hegel”,  or  Hegel's Holiday, one of Magritte's most important paintings of the 1950s.  Though the artist painted only two versions of this humorous composition, which depicts a glass of water perched atop an open umbrella, it remains one of the artist's most well-known and emblematic images. The painting sold for $10,162,500 (£6,402,375/€7,418,625) to an American private collector.  Elsewhere  in  the  sale,  Magritte's “La  fin  du  monde”,  which features his celebrated “Man in the Bowler Hat” motif, sold for more than $7,026,500 (£4,426,695/ €5,129,345) to a South American private collector.

Works  consigned  from  prominent  museum  collections  also  drew  solid  results,  led  by  Paul Delvaux's masterwork,  Les  Mains,  1941 “ which  was  offered  by  Museum  of  Modern  Art,  sold  to  benefit  the acquisitions  fund.  The  painting  sold  for  $6,578,500 (£4,144,455/ €4,802,305) to an American private collector.  Works by Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Barbara Hepworth from the Art Institute of Chicago also sold well, realizing a total of $5,183,500.

In  total,  three  lots  sold  above  $10  million,  nine  lots  above  $5  million,  and  33  lots  above  $1  million.

Thirteen  different  countries  were  represented,  with  strong  participation  from  South  America, China and Russia, as well as Western Europe and the United States.
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