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    Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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

    Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten sold for £47.9 million at Sotheby’s in London tonight. The third highest price for any work of art ever sold at auction in Europe was achieved at a sale which scored the highest total of £195 million for any auction ever staged in London.  At the Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist art evening sales five lots sold for over £10 million.

    The Klimt was a record for a landscape by the artist. Four bidders competed for the luminous flower garden. Bauerngarten was painted in 1907 during the golden period of Klimt’s career.

    It was a highlight of the critically acclaimed ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London last year and at at auction for the first time in over two decades.

    Picasso’s Plante de Tomates, painted just days before the liberation of Paris in 1944, sold for £17 million. This is a record for a still life by the artist. The total achieved for eight works by Picasso over the course of the evening was £54.7 million. Two other works by Picasso exceeded £10 million – Femme nu assise (£13.6 million) and  Femme assise dans un fauteuil sur fond blanc (£12 million).  Modigliani’s Portrait of Baranowski made £16 million and a Tahiti painting by Gauguin sold for £8.3 million.

    Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said:
    Tonight’s outstanding result is a new benchmark for London sales as much as it is a statement on the momentum of the global art market in 2017. The success of tonight’s sale lies in reading the market to know what buyers are looking for, and Sotheby’s having been entrusted by our clients with extraordinary works. This, combined with the pent up market demand for works of such extraordinary calibre, propelled global buying in our saleroom – particularly from Asia –  and it was wonderful to experience on the rostrum.”

    Amedeo Modigliani
    PORTRAIT DE BARANOWSKI sold for £16 million

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Vier Akte under Baumen (Four nudes under trees) sold for £5.4 million.

    Paul Gauguin – Te Arii Vahine sold for £8.3 million


    Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

    Pablo Picasso – Plant de tomates. UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR £17,033,750

    Painted days before the liberation of Paris Picasso’s Plant de tomates comes up at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in London on March 1.  Picasso’s series of five paintings of a tomato plant in bloom in the Paris apartment he shared with his lover Marie-Thérèse are ripe with personal as well as wider political and cultural significance. Symbolic of victory in Europe they were a way of reflecting the spirit of hope and resilience that characterised this time.  Estimated at £10-15 million this is the most complex and visually striking example of the war period series. This museum quality work has been in a private collection for four decades.  It was sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 1976.

    Samuel Valette, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist in Impressionist & Modern Art, commented: “This exceptional work by Pablo Picasso was painted at a moment of particular tension during the war: the liberation of Paris. As such, it is infused with a sense of renewed energy and hope that distinguishes it from other wartime still-lifes, which were imbued with a more sombre and dark mood. It shows that there was light at the end of the tunnel. For Picasso, the very act of continuing to paint as normal was an act of resistance, and following the Liberation, his atelier became a must-see for the allied soldiers who wanted to witness what the master had created in the war years.”


    Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

    Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) – Jean-Michel Basquiat  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £12 MILLION

    One of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s finest full-length male figures from his series of grand-scale paintings that took the art world by storm in the early 1980’s – Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face – will lead Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening auction in London on March 8.  It was last sold at auction for $23,100 in 1987 one year before the artists death.  It is now estimated at £14-§8 million.

    Basquiat’s heroic male figures, always depicted with both arms raised aloft, and often shown with a studded halo or roughly pronged crown, formed the centrepiece of almost all the artist’s most important early works. Often based on the black athletes whose prowess allowed them to transcend racial boundaries in mid-20th century America, these figures were of huge personal importance to the artist. As a young black man raised in a middle-class family in Brooklyn, he readily felt the effects of racial segregation in art history: “I realised that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them”.

    Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Europe said:  “The hero figures in Basquiat’s paintings refer to the stars of sporting, musical and artistic worlds who, thanks to their extraordinary talents, transcended their social status to become the nation’s icons. Painted with their arms held aloft and wearing a crown of thorns they also reflect Basquiat’s own dramatic ascent from street artist to gallery sensation, and to his present status as one of the most valuable and talked about artists in the world.”


    Friday, February 17th, 2017

    The inaugural Erotic: Passion & Desire sale at Sotheby’s in London – featuring over 100 lots of fine art, photography, sculpture and design – brought a total of £5,297,000 over a  combined pre-sale estimate of £3.1-4.6 million.  The top lots were two sculptural masterpieces which established auction records.  In an intense bidding battle, collectors clamoured to acquire Jacques Loysel’s La Grande Nevrose,  considered to be the sculptor’s definitive masterwork. This sensual marble, retained by Loysel in his Paris atelier until his death in 1925 and not seen on the market since, made £1,868,750. The estimate was £120,000-180,000.

    A rare surviving work by Sarah Bernhardt – a rediscovered marble relief of Ophelia  – sparked frenzied bidding, driving the final sale price to £308,750, six times its pre-sale low estimate (£50,000-70,000). The highest price for a contemporary sculpture in the sale was achieved when Antony Gormley’s  Pole II which made £320,750. A Roman marble group of two lovers c1st-2nd centuries AD  made £236,750. Further highlights included works on paper by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, who forged a new path in fearless depictions of the naked figure. Schiele’s Akt (Nude) made £224,750 and Klimt’s pencil drawing Half-nude reclining to the right made £175,000.

    Sarah Bernhardt – Ophelia

    Jacques Loysel – La Grande Névrose


    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.”