The Impressionist and modern art sale Tuesday, saw Van Gogh’s “L’allée Des Alyscamps” go to a private collector in Asia after heated bidding with at least five other collectors.
Van Gogh’s works have always been among the most collectible among Impressionist artists. His “Portrait du docteur Gachet” sold for $82.4 million in 1990 and a self-portrait sold for $71.5 million in 1998.
The art market as a whole has been on fire the past few years, with eye-popping bids for well-known works, whether by the old masters or contemporary painters and sculptors.
Monet’s “Les Nymphéas” ignited a bidding war between George Wachter, chairman of Sotheby’s North and South America, and Sotheby’s Asia chairman Patti Wong.
Three other Monet paintings were also snapped up. “Bassin aux nymphéas, les rosiers” sold for $20.4 million; “Le Palais Ducal” sold for $23.1 million and “La Seine à Vétheuil” sold for $11.5 million, according to the auction house.
All have long been in private collections. Monet’s 1919 “Water Lily Pond,” holds the record for the artist, selling for $80.5 million at Christie’s in 2008.
Sotheby’s auctioned 18 Monets last year for $190.5 million, including a water lily painting from 1906 that sold for $54.1 million. Five other Monets were sold in London for $83.8 million earlier this year. “L’allée Des Alyscamps” is the third most expensive painting by the artist sold by Sotheby’s.
Among other big sellers on Tuesday were Picasso’s “Femme au chignon dans un fauteuil”, 29.9 million; Joan Miro’s “L’oiseau encerclant de l’or éntincelant la pensée du poète,” $9.7 million; Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture “Femme de Venise VI,” $16.2 million, and French cubist painter Fernand Léger’s “La Roue bleue, état définitif” $10.6 million.
The next big Sotheby’s sale, its “Contemporary Art Evening Auction,” May 12, will see Roy Lichtenstein’s “The Ring (Engagement)” hit the block with a pre-sale value of $60 million.
Sotheby’s previously estimated that New York City’s spring art auctions could gross between $78 million and $110 million.
With art prices escalating, a 1947 Giacometti sculpture is expected to break records. It has a pre-sale price estimate of $130 million, according to Christie’s. “Pointing Man,” will be up for auction for the first time.
“‘Pointing Man’ is unquestionably Giacometti’s greatest sculpture,” Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president told Reuters. “This example stands apart from all others because it is unique. It was hand-painted by the artist himself.”
Giacometti’s “L’Homme qui marche I” sculpture, sold in 2010, is the current record holder with an auction price of $104.3 million.
Picasso’s cubist painting, “Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”),” has also been tagged with a $140 million pre-sale estimate at Christie’s. It last sold 1997 at triple the pre-sale estimate, according to the auction house.
Christie’s auction May 11, will feature 35 lots, expected to fetch half a billion dollars.
“The high prices we see are a reflection of both rarity and surging demand,” said Pylkkanen.
“Asian collectors have been increasingly active lately, bringing a new competitive dynamic, especially when it comes to top-quality masterpieces.”
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