| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 6 The spring art auctions got off
to a solid start on Tuesday as Christie's sold $286 million
worth of Impressionist and modern art, its best New York result
in the category in four years.
Led by Monet's "Nymphéas," one of the artist's seminal water
lilies paintings which sold for $27 million, the auction saw 89
percent of the 53 works on offer finding buyers and beat its low
estimate total of about $245 million.
While works at all levels sold well, bidding was measured
and the salesroom atmosphere somewhat muted, with most of the
top lots selling for below the pre-sale estimates.
Like the Monet, Picasso's "Portrait de femme (Dora Maar),"
the evening's second-highest priced work, fell short of
expectations, fetching $22,565,000 including commission.
Christie's had estimated both works to sell for $25 million
to $35 million. Estimates do not include commission of just over
A noteworthy exception was Modigliani's "Jeune homme roux
assis," which fetched $17,637,000 after determined bidding drove
the portrait to half again the $8 million to $12 million
Christie's officials said the price illustrated that
attractive, or conservative, estimates can often be expected to
drive a bidding war.
"Tonight was clearly a testament to the incredible breadth
in our marketplace," said Brooke Lampley, head of Impressionist
and modern art at Christie's.
Lampley added the sale was marked by "bids from every part
of the world," with collectors from 36 countries having
Asian buyers nabbed at least two of the sale's top 10 lots,
including "Nymphéas," in a category that was once the
near-exclusive purview of U.S. and European collectors.
Lampley said growing interest from Asians reflected "a
growth in the Asian (art) market generally," as well as the
auction house's relatively new presence in mainland China.
Other work commanding top prices included Wassily
Kandinsky's "Strandszene," which carried a $16 million to $22
million estimate and sold for $17.2 million, and Picasso's "Deux
femmes et enfant," which fetched just over $13 million on an
estimate of $12 million to $16 million.
The sales continue on Wednesday at Sotheby's, where
Impressionist and modern art offerings include Henri Matisse's
"La Séance du matin" ($20 million-$30 million) and Picasso's
"Tête de Marie-Thérèse," are estimated at $15 million-$20
Both houses hold their sales focusing on the red-hot
contemporary art market next week.
(Editing by Ron Popeski)