Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

    Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” sold for $86,882,500.

    A 1961 Rothko sold for nearly $87 million as contemporary art smashed records at Christie’s in New York last night. The auction, brimful of fresh to the market work by the most sought after artists, brought in $388.488 million over a high estimate of $329 million. Contemporary art reasserted its global position as the most popular selling category attracting the wealthiest collectors.

    Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” sold for a stunning $86,882,500, beating the previous record set by the artist at Sotheby’s in 2007 by more than $15 million. It was the highest price ever for a contemporary artwork, beating the $86.3 million set by Francis Bacon at Sotheby’s in 2008. There were records too for artists like Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Alexander Calder, Gerhard Richter and Yves Klein.

    Yves Klein’s FC-1 sold for $36,482,500, Pollock’s “Number 28, 1951” made $23,042,500, Barnett Newman’s “Onement V” made $22,482,500, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (798-3) made $21,810,500 and Alexander Calder’s stabile “Lily of Force” from 1945 made $18,562,500.  In all 14 new world auction records were set, nine works sold above $10 million and 41 works made over $1 million.

    The Rothko was one of 13 stellar works from the Pincus Collection.  With a combined total of $174,944,500 this now ranks as the most expensive collection of Post-War and Contemporary art ever offered at auction.  David and Geraldine Pincus, prominent Philadelphia collectors and philanthropists, assembled it over a lifetime.

    For an explanation of how Yves Klein created FC 1 without brushes and without ever directly touching the surface of the work see the video post on for May 1 and the post for April 5, 2012.


    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

    The menu for the in-flight meal. UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR 5,200.

    Signed by all four of The Beatles. UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR 5,200.

    A menu served by Aer Lingus and signed by The Beatles comes up at Kerry Auction Rooms in Tralee on May 15. The Beatles came to Ireland and performed in Dublin in November 1963. An Aer Lingus stewardess on their flight, who now lives in Kerry, had them sign a menu.  It is now being offered for sale with an estimate of 4,000-6,000.

    Antique furniture includes a Wiliam IV mahogany library table, an Edwardian bureau bookcase, a 19th century fold over card table and four late Victorian side chairs. The sale also features English and Irish silver, coins, bank notes, books and militaria.




    Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

    Indoors, Outdoors by Louis le Brocquy at James Adam. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD.

    A 1951 masterpiece by Louis le Brocquy  “Indoors, Outdoors” is a feature lot at the James Adam sale of Irish art in Dublin on May 30. It is the most important work by le Brocquy to come to market since “Sick Tinker Child”, sold at Adams in 2006 for 820,000.

    “Indoors, Outdoors” was the inspiration for  “A Family”, the monumental work in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland (see post on for April 25). The two paintings formed part of a critically acclaimed exhibition by le Brocquy at Gimpel Fils in London in 1951.  They were hung together again at the Venice Biennale in 1956.

    By the time of Le Brocquy’s 1966 retrospective in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin the picture belonged to Hollywood actress Dana Wynter who maintained a home in Wicklow.  She later sold it before the current owner bought it at an auction in Adam’s in June 1989 where it fetched the then world record price for his work, IR£60,000 (€76,200).  The estimate for the work now is 500,000. It is among over 60 paintings from the James Adam auction on show at the Ava Gallery, Clandeboye, Co. Down from May 9 to May 18.


    Monday, May 7th, 2012

    A brass fishing reel stamped Enright, Castleconnell.

    Fishing reels fit for a Tsar were made in Castleconnell on the mighty River Shannon in Co. Limerick.

    Tall tales associated with fishermen notwithstanding, the fishing reels made in this renowned sporting country  by John Enright were reputedly favoured by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.  One that didn’t get away – a brass fishing reel by John Enright – will come under the hammer at a sale at O’Donovan and Associates, Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick on May 12.
    The auction will offer more than 600 lots including Waterford Crystal, period furniture, medals, coins and art.  There is even a mahogany reed organ dating from 1887.  Made by W. Bell and Co. it is from a church in west Limerick.


    Sunday, May 6th, 2012

    Interior of a Cafe by William John Leech at James Adam. UPDATE: THIS MADE 200,000.

    An outstanding interior by William John Leech is one of the highlights at the sale of important Irish art at James Adam in Dublin on May 30.  ‘Interior of a Café’ (1908) estimated at €200,000-400,000 is one of 60 works from the auction on view at the Ava Gallery, Clandeboye from May 9-May 18.  It was included ‘The Irish Impressionists’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland in 1984 and was last seen in public at the 1996 Leech retrospective, again at the National Gallery.

    A 1950 work by Jack B. Yeats entitled “Good Evening Men” is estimated at 200,000-300,000.  Among the works by Louis le Brocquy in the auction is a tapestry entitled ‘Cherub’ (1951) contained in a 19th century Biedermeier burr walnut fire screen and estimated at 10,000 – 15,000.

    Good evening men by Jack B. Yeats. UPDATE: THIS MADE 180,000.

    Cherub, a tapestry by Louis le Brocquy in a Biedermeier firescreen. UPDATE: THIS MADE 8,500


    Friday, May 4th, 2012

    THERE are two very different works by the late Louis le Brocquy  (see post for April 25) at Sotheby’s British and Irish art sale in London on May 10.  Travelling People is an oil on board which dates from 1945. It is part of the artist’s celebrated Tinkers series.  Equally celebrated is his series of heads, in which he explored the archaeology of the spirit.  Masked Head dates from 1973.  Each work aroused considerable interest when highlights from the Irish section of the sale were toured in Dublin and Belfast in latter weeks. (See posts on for April 12 and January 16, 2012).

    LOUIS LE BROCQUY, H.R.H.A. (1916-2012) TRAVELLING PEOPLE from 1945 (£60,000-80,000). (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    LOUIS LE BROCQUY, H.R.H.A. (1916-2012), Masked Head (£30,000-50,000). (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

    The Scream (click on image to enlarge).

    Edvard Munch’s The Scream made a new world art auction record of $119,922,500 at Sotheby’s in New York last night.  A group of at least eight bidders jumped into the competition, but it was a prolonged battle between two highly-determined phone bidders that carried the final selling price to its historic level, after more than 12 minutes.  The iconic masterpiece is one of four versions of the work, the only one left in private hands.

    Even though 15 of the 76 works on offer were unsold, the  sale total of $330,568,550 million marked Sotheby’s highest ever total for a sale of Impressionist and Modern Art.  The Scream smashed the previous auction record of $106.5 million for Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, sold in 2010 by Christie’s in New York.  Only two other works besides Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust have sold for more than $100 million at auction. Those are Picasso’s Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice) for $104.1 million in 2004 and Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man I for $104.3 million in 2010.

    Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, selling The Scream. (Click on image to enlarge).

    The top ten in the sale last night were: 1 – The Scream;  2 – Pablo Picasso, Femme assise dan un fauteuil $29,202,500:  3 – Salvador Dalí, Printemps nécrophilique, $16,322,500; 4 – Joan Miró, Tête humaine, $14,866,500; 5 – Constantin Brancusi, Prométhée, $12,682,500; 6 – Chaim Soutine, Le chasseur de Chez Maxim’s, $9,378,500: 7 – Paul Gauguin, Cabane sous les arbres, $8,482,500; 8 – Max Ernst, Leonora in the Morning Light, $7,922,500; 9 – Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme (Portrait de Françoise), $6,914,500; 10 – Tamara de Lempicka Nu adossé I, $5,458,500.

    See posts on for February 21 and April 27 2012 and the post for February 4, 2012 on Cezanne’s Card Players.


    Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

    Hegarty’s  auction in Bandon, Co. Cork on May 6 features some appetising lots of antique furniture as well as Irish silver, garden statuary, old sheet music  and collectibles.  Here is a small selection (click on any image to enlarge it):

    A Regency Irish foldover tea table (1,500-2,500). Update: This made 1,950.

    An 18th Century Irish silver salver (1,500-2,500). Update: This made 1,550.

    A Georgian card table (2,000-3,000). Update: This made 1,300.

    A pair of 19th century rosewood library chairs (1,500-2,000). Update: these sold for 1,350.

    An Edwardian cheval mirror is estimated at 800-1,200. Update: This sold for 900.

    An 18th century Irish mother of pearl tortoiseshell and silver snuff box. Update: This was unsold.


    Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

    Henri Matisse’s Les Pivoines made $19,122,500. (Click on image to enlarge).

    A Fauve Still Life by Henri Matisse and a re-discovered Cezanne study for The Card Players were the top lots at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York on May 1.  The carefully edited sale brought in $117,086,000.  There were 31 works on offer, two sold for over $15 million, seven for over $5 million and 21 for over $1 million. The auction was 90 per cent  sold by lot and 96 per cent sold by value.

    Picasso’s Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse Walter) made $9,882,500. (Click on image to enlarge).

    Cézanne’s Joueur de cartes (Card Player), a rare watercolor study that had been assumed lost by art historians until it re-emerged from a private collection in Texas earlier this year sold for $19,122,500. Henri Matisse’s Les Pivoines soared above its pre-sale estimate of $8-12 million to match the price of the Cézanne study.  It went to a bidder on the phone. Painted in 1907 in Collioure, the painting is emblematic of the canvases Matisse and his protégé André Derain first began producing in 1905 as a bold exploration of form and color. Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse Walter), Picasso’s lovingly painted portrait of the young blonde muse who inspired his great 1932 series of masterpiece works, far exceeded its estimate of $5-7 million to realize $9,882,500.  Reclining figure from 1956 by Henry Moore realized $5,010,500 and Edgar Degas’s Grande arabesque, deuxième temps, a bronze of the artist’s signature dancer, exceeded its estimate of $500,000-700,000 to realize $1,022,500.

    Marc Porter, Chairman, Christie’s Americas, commented: “This was a carefully edited sale that brought together collecting options at the highest level of market while hitting the market “sweet spot” of mid-priced works by blue-chip artists like Picasso, Matisse, Monet, and Moore. As a result, we saw our strongest sell-through percentages for this category in New York since 2006, which is a testament to the market-savvy of our Impressionist and Modern Art team. We are particularly pleased with the results achieved for Cézanne’s study for “Card Players” and for our cover lot, Matisse’s “Les Pivoines (The Peonies)”, which proved to be the perfect ode to spring in New York.”

    (See post on for March 27, 2012)

    The sales continue at Sotheby’s later today (at 7 p.m. in New York) where the main focus of attention is Edvard Munch’s  “The Scream.”  It is reckoned that this art auction fortnight in New York could bring in as much as $1.5 billion.


    Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

    To highlight the groundbreaking nature of Yves Klein’s monumental FC 1(Fire Color 1) Christie’s commissioned award-winning filmmaker Laurent Chanez to make a three- minute video celebrating the creation of the masterpiece. Chanez has taken historic footage of Klein creating the work in 1962, using pigment-covered nude models and a hose of blazing fire as his “brushes”, and interspersed it with his own elemental imagery and composer Christian Zanesi’s abstract soundtrack  to draw viewers into Klein’s unforgettably dramatic process of realizing this singular painting.

    The most important work by Yves Klein ever offered at auction FC 1 comes up for sale in New York on May 8. It is estimated at $30-40 million. Christie’s say it is poised to break the world record for the artist. UPDATE:  IT SOLD FOR WORLD RECORD PRICE OF $36,482,500, far exceeding the previous auction record of $23.5 million.

    (See post on for April 5, 2012).