Manet’s “Le Primtemps” led Christie’s sale of Impressionist and Modern Art – New York, November 5th, 2014

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The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is the new owner of Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps (Springtime), sold at Christie’s New York Wednesday night for$65,125,000 (£41,028,750 / €52,100,000) after an epic bidding battle between private and institutional clients from the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The price set a new auction record for any work by Manet, nearly doubling the artist’s previous auction record of US$33.3 million, set in 2010. Of the 30 paintings that Manet exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882 over the course of his lifetime, Le Printemps was the last remaining in private hands. Proceeds from its sale will benefit a private American foundation supporting environmental, public health and other charitable causes.

Manet’s Le Printemps was the star lot of Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on Wednesday, which achieved an overall sale total of $165,635,000 (£104,350,050/ € 132,508,000), and was 90% sold by lot and 87% by value. Of the 39 works offered, 1 lot sold for over $50 million, 6 sold for over $5 million, and 31 sold for over $1 million. 38% of lots sold above the high estimate, and 23% of lots sold within the pre-sale estimate range. Three additional sales, Works on Paper, the Day Sale, and an online-only auction of Picasso Ceramics will complete this week’s sales series.

While the record price for Manet drove the evening’s headlines, the sale was also notable for consistently high sell-through rates at the middle market level, between $500,000 and $5 million. For example, works priced in the $1-2 million range were 92% sold by lot.  Similarly, works priced in the $2-5 million range were 93% sold by lot. Together, these impressive rates are an indication that collectors are seeking high-quality Impressionist and Modern art across a broad spectrum of prices.

Impressionist and Cubist works proved particularly appealing to clients this season, with 100% of the sale’s Impressionist and Cubist offerings sold — an indication of heightened interest in this movement as well as the great rarity of the works offered.  The Cubist selection was led by a collection of three works from the Melamed Family Collection, which totaled $10,151,000, including:

o         PABLO PICASSO, Figure, paper collage, pen and black ink and pencil on paper, 1913, price realized: $4,309,000

o         GINO SEVERINI, Etude pour Autoportrait au canotier, charcoal, pastel and white and blue chalk on buff paper, 1912-1913, price realized: $4,757,000 – a new auction record for a work by the artist in this medium.

Additional Cubist Highlights

o         Juan Gris, Verre et carafe sur une table, price realized: $1,085,000

o         Pablo Picasso, Guitare, price realized: $5,317,000

o         Georges Braque, Guitare et rhum, price realized: $4,645,000

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