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    Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

    A masterpiece by German painter Georg Baselitz is set to break the record at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening auction in London March 8. Mit Roter Fahne (With Red Flag), 1965, from the artist’s ground-breaking ‘Heroes’ series, is a painting that cemented the artist’s reputation as one of the most provocative and compelling voices of the post-war era.  It is estimated at £6.5-8.5 million. It is one of an outstanding group of 17 works by German artists to feature, representing around a quarter of lots on offer. Further highlights include Gerhard Richter’s desolately beautiful Eisberg (£8-12 million), Anselm Kiefer’s monumental Athanor (£1.5-2.5 million), Sigmar Polke’s Pop-inspired Die Schmiede (£1-1.5 million), and works by   Martin Kippenberger, Wolfgang Tillmans, Albert Oehlen, Thomas Schütte, Günther Förg, Günther Uecker and Michael Krebber.

    Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Europe said “Seismic moments of social and political change in history have always created seismic changes in art, something we undoubtedly see in post-war Germany. Many of these artists tackled challenging; some might say profound, subject matter, while at the same time creating new visual languages which redefined European art history.

    The market for German contemporary art has gone from strength to strength in recent years, led by the £30.4 million achieved for Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild at Sotheby’s London in 2015, a record for any living European artist. Richter is just one from a wave of German post-war masters defining today’s contemporary art market.

    • Over the last 5 years there has been a 31% increase in the number of bidders on German Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s auctions worldwide.
    • In Sotheby’s flagship Evening London contemporary sales in 2016, around 20% of the works offered were by German artists.
    • At Sotheby’s October 2016 ‘Frieze Week’ sales in London, the 9 works offered by German artists accounted for 43.3% (£20.76 million) of the overall sale total.
    • In the last two years alone, new auction records have been set for Wolfgang Tilmans, Gerhard Richter, Albert Oehlen, Thomas Schütte, Georg Baselitz, Martin Kippenberger, Günther Uecker, Sigmar Polke, Michael Krebber and Günther Förg.

      Georg Baselitz – Mit Roter Fahne (With Red Flag), 1965  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £7.5 MILLION

      Anselm Kiefer – Athanor


    Sunday, February 12th, 2017

    Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) – Bauerngarten painted in 1907

    Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten will lead Sotheby’s highest value Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in London on March 1.  One of his finest landscapes it was first exhibited at a pivotal moment for the artist in Vienna in 1908. It was acquired just two years after the Kunstschau show in Vienna by the National Gallery in Prague.  Last year the painting, at auction for the first time in two decades, was a highlight at the Painting the Modern Garden exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

    Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “Gustav Klimt is one of the most desirable artists today and his iconic masterpieces are revered and recognised the world over. The star of this season’s offering is undoubtedly Klimt’s luminous Bauerngarten, dating from the artist’s celebrated and much-loved golden period and from the same year as his famous golden Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Innovative in its composition and jewel-like in its exquisite blaze of colours, it is one of the artist’s greatest masterpieces ever to come to auction. Most of the artist’s oil paintings of this calibre are in major museums around the world with only a handful works of this importance having appeared at auction in the last decade.”

    The estimate for the work is in excess of $45 million. Klimt ranks among the few artists whose works have sold for over $100 million.


    Thursday, February 9th, 2017

    Max Ernst (1891-1976) – Le Chaste Joseph

    A special exhibition of loaned works by Surrealist Max Ernst (1891-1976) will go on public view at Sotheby’s in London from February 13 to March 2.  The exhibition coincides with Sotheby’s Surrealist art evening auction on March 1.  The eleven works showcase a dynamic period in the Paris art scene from 1921-28 when Ernest was the foremost surreal artist in the city.  They are on display in London for the first time in almost three decades.

    Ernst’s fascination with nature – and in particular, birds and forests – will be brought into the spotlight with this exhibition. The paintings have remained in private hands since they were painted.

    Samuel Valette, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist in Impressionist & Modern Art, commented: “We are honoured to have been loaned a selection of Max Ernst’s greatest works to present a public exhibition that places a much-deserved spotlight on the artist who was at the very forefront of the Surrealist movement’s aesthetic innovation. Presented in a specially created gallery display to evoke Ernst’s magical yet dark account of the first time he entered a forest, this small but gem-like show will envelop visitors in Ernst’s mastery of the natural and the fantastic. It provides a greater understanding of the artist himself and his profound influence on many of the greatest artists who followed him.”

    With over half of these works still in their original constructed frames designed by Ernst himself, the paintings present an incomparable insight into the most innovative period of the artist’s career. The jewel of the exhibition is Le Chaste Joseph, loosely based on an account in the Old Testament – one of the greatest masterpieces by Max Ernst in private hands.


    Monday, February 6th, 2017

    The Artist Pension Trust® (APT) is to offer a selection of artworks from its vast holdings at auction for the first time. A total of 34 works have been chosen for Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sees in New York and London on March 2 and April 12. They are from the studios of trail-blazing contemporary artists including Josh Smith, David Shrigley, Bob & Roberta Smith and Liam Gillick. The proceeds from the sales will benefit artists participating in APT.

    Mark Sebba, Chairman of MutualArt, which owns APT, said: “For a decade we’ve had the privilege of working with many of the world’s most promising artists as we have been assembling an unprecedented collection of international contemporary art. But while a small number of works have been sold privately in the last couple of years, this spring’s offering represents the first time that works from the collection will be offered at auction. Now is the time for us to broaden our sales activity by launching our first auctions – providing artists with further returns on their contributions to APT, and unveiling the collection to a new, wider, audience”.

    The Artist Pension Trust offers long term financial security to select artists around the world. Since launching in 2004 it has compiled the world’s largest collection of international contemporary art, comprising nearly 13,000 artworks by 2,000 diverse artists in 75 different countries. The artists range from those that have participated in the most important fairs and biennials, and have won some of the most prestigious awards, to young artists who are at an earlier stage in their careers. Each participating artist agrees to deposit 20 artworks over a 20-year period. These deposits are then gradually sold to benefit the participating members.  Here is a selection from the London and New York auctions:

    Bob and Roberta Smith – Jasper Johns is a dinosaur (£1,500-2,000)

    Liam Gillick – Brazil Kalmar Text 2006 (£12,000-18,000)

    Keltie Ferris – Kimbo Slice ($20,000-30,000)

    Peter Peri – Threefold Circumscribed 1 ($2,500-3,800)



    Friday, February 3rd, 2017

    Gerhard Richter, Eisberg, 1982, Oil on canvas, 100.5 by 151 cm  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £17.7 MILLION

    Gerhard Richter’s Eisberg will come to auction for the first time at Sotheby’s evening sale of contemporary art in London on March 8.  It was painted soon after the artist’s divorce from his first wife Ema in 1981. Gerhard and Ema had been married for 25 years, but by the early 1980s Richter was living with Isa Genzken, a successful young artist. In the words of his biographer, Dietmar Elger, Eisberg was created as an attempt “to work through his unfulfilled hope for familial happiness and to take final stock of a difficult period in his life.

    “For an artist who so consistently sought to objectively portray everyday nature as filtered through photography, the iceberg paintings hold a special place among Richter’s landscapes, coming closest to the transcendental sublime of 19th century German Romanticism. In the short time I’ve been lucky enough to live with this painting, I’ve been truly fascinated to see its colours change every day – sometimes glowing and warm, sometimes icy cold. It’s a painting that never stands still” commented Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Europe.

    Estimated at £8 – 12 million / HK$76.8 – 115.2 million, Eisberg is the largest of only three Iceberg paintings made by Richter. The second work is held in the prestigious collection of Doris and Donald Fisher that is promised to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A third work, Eis (1981) sold at Sotheby’s London in February 2012 for £4.3 million. This one is estimated at £8-12 million.


    Thursday, January 26th, 2017

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens – Study of a Horse with a Rider

    A rare example of a large-scale animal study by the Flemish painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens achieved $5.1 million at Sotheby’s sale of Old Masters in New York.  A rare example of a large-scale animal study by the artist, Study of a Horse with a Rider had been until recently described as by a follower of Sir Anthony Van Dyck. However, the authorship had been difficult to discern due to overpaint and background added later, which dominated the original scene. With the removal of these later additions, the canvas has been revealed as a work of high quality, and a typical example of the spirited and rapidly-painted oil sketches for which Rubens is celebrated.

    The sales of Old Master Drawings and Master Paintings and Sculpture at Sotheby’s  – part of Masters Week in New York – realised a total of $31.8 million.  Christopher Apostle, Head of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department in New York, commented: “This evening we saw exceptional prices for several exceptional pictures – this market understands and appreciates a masterpiece when it sees one. That applies both to famed artists like Rubens and Botticelli, who continue to attract a global audience, as well as names celebrated among connoisseurs like Drost and de Coster, both of whom saw new auction records set tonight. We had strong private bidding across our field, including participation from Asian and Russian collectors, with Dutch 17th-century pictures, early Italian, and Flemish works performing particularly well.”


    Monday, January 23rd, 2017

    The single-owner sale dedicated to the collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw at Sotheby’s in New York on March 2 is largely focused on Post-War and Contemporary Art.  Entitled In Its Own Light the auction includes examples of German Expressionism and Modern British art. The New York couple’s collection was created over 35 years and reflects the close relationships (often grounded in a shared passion for literature), between Ed Cohen and many of the artists represented, as well as with gallerists such as Anthony d’Offay and Marian Goodman. Highlights include pieces by Joseph Beuys, John Currin, Cecily Brown, Brice Marden, Anselm Kiefer, Agnes Martin, William Kentridge and Gerhard Richter. Richter was collected in particular depth with a range of works – from a smaller-scale example of the artist’s signature abstraction, to examples from the important, but less well-known Souvenir and Painted Photograph series.

    Allan Schwartzman, Chairman, Sotheby’s Fine Arts Division commented: “The Cohen Collection defines collecting at its best, as it includes the highest level of selectivity and connoisseurship, a very personal and finely honed assembly of artists spanning many generations, and an articulate and unwavering commitment to the most timeless of subjects for art—the human condition.  Whether with artists collected in depth, or represented by a single work, the Cohens have consistently collected works that get to the heart of each artist represented, not always in the most obvious way, but always in the most insightful.” Ed Cohen is also known as a generous supporter of a number of museums, most notably the Tate where a gallery is named for him. The sale is estimated to fetch $4/6 million.  It will be followed by the contemporary curated auction. Both sales are timed to coincide with The Armory Show, with exhibitions opening on February 24.

    Gerhard Richter
    Abstraktes Bild (843-4),1997 ($600/800,000)

    Cecily Brown Bonus, 2004 ($300/400,000_

    Anselm Kiefer Stefan I, 1975 ($150/200,000)

    John Currin The Florist, 2003 ($400-600,000_




    Monday, January 16th, 2017

    Orazio Gentileschi

    Head of a Woman  by Orazio Gentileschi, which once hung outside the bedroom of King Charles I at Whitehall Palace in London, is a highlight Sotheby’s sale in New York on January 25.  It was sold off after his execution as his famous art collection was scattered across Europe and comes to auction now for the first time in 380 years.  In the interim the work, described as “Naked Woman” in the original inventory which detailed “the Picture of a woeman with her left breast naked her right breast covered with a part of her Smock”, has been altered.  The bottom of the canvas has been removed, possibly by a prudish owner. It dates from the early 1630’s and is one of two surviving works by the artist on panel.

    The impressive art collection of King Charles I was sold off by Parliament after his execution in 1649 to pay the late king’s debts. More than 1,300 paintings were consigned by Cromwell to Somerset House, where they were offered to the public. The sale has gone down in history both as a tragic loss of national art and for its odd detail, with a Titian painting famously given to a plumber to pay his bill.  Estimated at $2-3 million the proceeds of the sale will in part benefit the department of European Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    UPDATE: This sold for $1,812,500


    Friday, January 13th, 2017

    An exhibition of highlights from Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art, Surrealist Art and Contemporary Art evening sales in London on March 1 and 8 will run on Hong Kong for the next three days.  It will include paintings by some of the most sought-after artists from Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse to Gerhard Richter and Yves Klein, Wassily Kandinsky, Francis Picabia and a small model of Rodin’s Penseur from the collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough estimated at £800,000-1 million.  Here is a sample:

    YVES KLEIN – UNTITLED MONOGOLD (MG 47) (£700,000-900,000)




    Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
    The most expensive lot at Sotheby's in 2016 was Picasso's Femme Assise

    The most expensive lot at Sotheby’s in 2016 was Picasso’s Femme Assise

    A heady list of art and diamonds make up Sotheby’s top ten lots in 2016.  Picasso, Modigliani, Munch, Twombly, Bacon, Daqian, Richter and Gentileschi in that order accounted for the top art works, a blue diamond and a pink diamond made up the balance.

    Picasso’s  Femme Assise, 1909 which sold for £43,269,000 ($63,631,391) in London in June topped the list.  Next came Amedeo Modigliani with Jeanne Hébuterne (Au Foulard), 1919 which sold for £38,509,000 ($56,631,335): Edvard Munch, Pikene på broen (Girls on the Bridge), 1902 which sold for $54,487,500: Cy Twombly, Untitled (New York City), 1968 sold for $36,650,000: Francis Bacon, Two Studies For A Self-Portrait, 1970 sold for $34,970,000: Zhang Daqian, Peach Blossom Spring, 1982 sold for HKD $270,680,000 (US$ 34,702,564) and Gerhard Richter, A.B., Still, 1986 sold for $33,987,500.
    Number eight on the list was the De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 which sold for HK$248,280,000 ($32,013,223). Ninth came the Unique Pink, a fancy vivid diamond ring which sold for CHF 30,826,000 (US$31,561,200) and Orazio Gentileschi, Danaë, 1621 which sold for $30,490,000 was tenth.