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CHRISTIE'S SALE OF IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART A BIT DISAPPOINTING
28 February 2019
Category : MARKET

Christie's sale of Impressionist and Modern art held in London on February 27 yielded 165.7 million GBP, below a pre-sale estimate of at least 179 million after three lots were withdrawn, while a Claude Monet waterlily pond with a weeping willow at Giverny estimated at 40 million was left unsold.

Estimated at 4 million GBP, another Monet, a dull painting of an Iris also failed to sell while a Cézanne still life of fruit on a table bought in 1980 by the French dealer Lefevre for 725,000 dollars went for 21 million GBP. Meanwhile, an early Impressionist landscape by Renoir, went beyond estimates to sell for 12.7 million GBP and a 1907 still life by Vlaminck—neither Fauve nor Cubist—sold within estimate for 2 million.

Apart from the two Monets, the other big disappointment of the sale of the Wallace collection was an Antwerp-period Van Gogh of a peasant woman, bought from Wildenstein in 1985 and estimated at 8 million to 12 million which was left unsold at 5 million while a Degas bronze of a dancer fetched half of its estimate at 112,500 pound. The Wallace collection finally only realized just half its pre-sale estimate to bring in 50.5 million.

The second major collection, said to come from the Canadian billionaire David Graham who died in 2017, was offered in favour of a charitable foundation. It included six works of better quality which totaled 44.5 million GBP, notably a Pointillist landscape by Paul Signac, sold in 1993 for 1,8 million USD, which culminated at 19.5 million GBP while Caillebotte's « Chemin Montant » (1881) sold for a record 16.7 million.

34 Surrealist works listed in a separate catalogue, estimated at 32.3 million to 41.5 million, realized 43.8 million GBP with only two lots not selling. Magritte's mirrored bowler-hat painting, Le lieu commun (1964), estimated between 15 million and 25 million, however only fetched 18.4 million.

Asian bidders were active among others from 25 countries but overall, the sale was below optimistic expectations, meaning that collectors are more and more selective.

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