NEW YORK, NY.- Tonight at Sotheby’s New York, the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale achieved a strong $199,804,500, well within the overall pre-sale estimate of $167.6/229.9 million and eclipsing the total for the same sale in May 2011. The auction was 81.4% sold by lot, and saw a total of 39 works sell for over $1 million. Gustav Klimt’s Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee) was the top lot of the sale, achieving $40,402,500 after a prolonged bidding battle (est. in excess of $25 million*), and auction records were set for Gustave Caillebotte, Tamara de Lempicka and Maxime Maufra.´”I have rarely felt a room as energetic as tonight” said Tobias Meyer, auctioneer of the evening sale.
“The art market was alive and well at Sotheby’s tonight” said Simon Shaw, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York. “We put the sale together with discipline and rigor, and in some cases walked away from consignments with aggressive estimates. The successes we had this evening showed that there is clearly a very great interest in rare works of art.”
“The key to our success this evening was putting correct estimates on works we believed in,” continued David Norman, Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art department worldwide. “By following our instincts and our combined knowledge, we estimated the Klimt landscape at around $25 million and saw competition from five bidders. The Klimt sold for over $40 million, coming close to the $43 million paid for a Klimt landscape last year.” Mr. Norman continued: “We were truly honored that we were entrusted by three great museums to sell their works this evening – the MFA Boston, the Israel Museum and The Menil Collection – and it was really gratifying to achieve strong results for them.”
Klimt’s Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee) was bought by David Lachenmann, a private dealer from Zurich, who was bidding on behalf of a private collector who will remain anonymous and who acquired the work because it was “a masterpiece in perfect condition”. The work follows the sale of Klimt’s landscape Kirche in Cassone (Landschaft mit Zypressen) (Church in Cassone – Landscape with Cypresses), which set an auction record for a landscape by the artist when it achieved £26.9 million ($43.2 million) at Sotheby’s London in February 2010 (est. $19/28.5 million).
Both landscapes – originally in the famed collection of Austrian iron magnate Viktor Zuckerkandl and his wife Paula, and descended to Viktor’s sister Amalie Redlich – were stolen after the annexation of Austria in 1938. Both have since been restituted to Georges Jorisch, great-nephew of Viktor and grandson of Amalie, after intensive research revealed that his memory of the works hanging in the family’s home in Purkersdorf was correct. Litzlberg am Attersee was returned to Mr. Jorisch this spring from the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, and a portion of the proceeds from its sale will be donated to that museum for the building of a new extension to be named in Amalie Redlich’s honor.
After the sale, Georges Jorisch said, “This was a beautiful evening and a very exciting moment when Litzlberg am Attersee was sold. I am very happy with the result and I hope the painting has gone into good hands.”
Another key highlight of the evening was Pablo Picasso’s L’Aubade from 1967, which set a new record for a late work by the artist when it sold for $23,042,500 (est. $18/25 million). Picasso painted three monumental works in June 1967 that focused on the dialogue between a flautist and a nude, and the present and final iteration of this theme is among the most masterful depictions of lovers from the artist’s late oeuvre. The work was on offer from a private North American collection, having been purchased by the current owner at Sotheby’s London in April 1979.
A strong selection of Impressionist works in the sale were led by Gustave Caillebotte’s Le Pont d’Argenteuil et la Seine, which set a new auction record for the artist in achieving $18,002,500 – well in excess of its $12 million high estimate. Saturated with the brilliant blue, green and steely gray tones of the river at midday, the work is a stunning example of Impressionist landscape painting at its most progressive and visually dynamic.
Property from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston also saw strong results for classic Impressionist paintings. Each of the seven works on offer were sold, bringing a cumulative total of $18,457,500. The group was led by Claude Monet’s Antibes, le fort, a panoramic view of the Mediterranean coast and the fort of Antibes, France that is one of the artist’s most dazzling pictures from the 1880s. The painting brought $9,266,500, above a high estimate of $7 million. Additional property from prominent museums included a group of works from The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, which totaled $10,991,000 and were led by René Magritte’s Le droit chemin that brought $3,554,500 (est. $2.5/3.5 million). And the sculpture Jeune homme au Coeur battant by Surrealist artist Max Ernst on offer from The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas more than doubled its high estimate of $600,000 to bring $1,426,500.
Also highlighting the sale were works by Tamara de Lempicka and Wassily Kandinsky. The sultry La rêve (Rafaëla sur fond vert) set a new artist record for de Lempicka when it achieved $8,482,500, above a high estimate of $7 million. Painted in 1927 while the artist was living in Paris, the sumptuous composition defines the artist’s chic and inimitable style. Kandinsky’s Weisser Klang (White Noise) – a symphony of color that exemplifies the Russian artist’s distinctive style, which would eventually lead to abstraction – sold for $8,930,500 (est. $7/10 million).
Surrealist works in the sale were led by a wonderful group of works by Max Ernst from the private collection Abstraction – Figuration, which brought a cumulative $10,891,500, exceeding their high estimate of $9.9 million. The group was led by Convolvulus! Convolvulus!, which sold to Rowland Weinstein of Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco for $3,442,500 (est. $1.5/2 million). In addition, three works by René Magritte totaled $12,455,500, including Le territoire that brought $4,786,500 (est. $3.5/5.5 million).
*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium