LONDON (Reuters) - Sotheby’s struggled to sell two of its top lots at a London auction of impressionist and modern art on Wednesday, taking some of the gloss off the art market after rival Christie’s set a series of records the day before.
Spanish painter Joan Miro was to have been the star of the night, part of a series of sales where the two major auction houses are offering art valued at more than 500 million pounds ($800 million).
Miro’s “Peinture” of 1933 had been valued at 7-10 million pounds ($11-$16 million) but went unsold in the auction.
In vivid contrast, Christie’s on Tuesday set a new auction record for the same artist when “Painting-Poem” went for 16.8 million pounds ($26.5 million), or twice the pre-sale estimate.
Another casualty on Wednesday was Gustav Klimt’s recently rediscovered landscape “Seeufer mit Birken” painted in 1901 and not seen in public for more than a century.
It too failed to find a buyer willing to meet the 6-8 million pound price tag, although it did change hands in a private transaction after the auction for 5.6 million pounds ($8.8 million).
A snowscape by Claude Monet, “L’Entree de Giverny en Hiver,”
fetched the night’s high price of 8.2 million pounds, above the high estimate. And a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner went under the hammer for 7.3 million pounds, at the top end of expectations.
Overall the sale raised 78.9 million pounds ($125 million), which was below the forecast range of 79.0-113.3 pounds even before the buyer’s premium was subtracted.
“Tonight we saw global bidding across the sale with avid collectors competing for museum-quality and rare works,” said Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art in Europe.
Christie’s held its less important day sales on Wednesday which raised 25.6 million pounds, taking its total for the week so far to 160.0 million pounds.
1 pound = $1.58
Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte