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Flash News, 2-8: Bullish on Art
More World Records Tumble at Christie's Sale
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

World records for the sale of work by Robert Delaunay, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, and others tumbled last night at Christie's Impressionism / Modern Evening and Art of the Surreal sales in London, while works by Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, and others sold for nearly double their lowest pre-sale estimates and three works of art owned by Elizabeth Taylor, including the Pissarro, doubled pre-sale expectations, selling for a combined $21,784,645, a promising harbinger for today's Christie's sale of 35 additional works from the late actress's collection.

"These strong results illustrate that the art market continues to attract significant levels of spending, particularly for the rarest and most exceptional works of art," said Giovanna Bertazzoni, International Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie?s. "It is an extremely intelligent market where pricing is key -- and where collectors react with the greatest determination to the rarest works of art, and particularly to those which are fresh to the market. We are particularly pleased to have established record prices for two great artists of the 20th century: Henry Moore and Joan Miro. In both cases, we offered works of art that were among the greatest produced by the artists, and their quality drew the most determined of bidding." Overall, bidding came from 21 countries on four continents.

Miro's 1925 Painting-Poem ("le corps de ma brune puisque je l'aime comme ma chatte habillee en vert salade comme de la greele c'est pareil"), which had a pre-show estimate of $9,462,00 - $14,193,00, sold for $26,558,651.

Pissarro's 1884 "Pommiers a Eragny," bought by Taylor in 1957, sold for $4,657,275, after a pre-sale estimate of $1,419,300 - $1,892,400. (Click here to see similar work in the Arts Voyager's recent gallery devoted to the "Pissarro's People" exhibition at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.) Vincent van Gogh's 1889 "Vue de l?asile et de la Chappelle de Saint-Remy," which Taylor's father the art dealer Francis Taylor acquired on her behalf in 1963 for 92,000 pounds, sold for 10,121,250 pounds or $15,961,211, after a pre-sale estimate of $7,885,000 - $11,039,000. Painted in the turquoise and ochre hues the latter of which were favored by Van Gogh in the epoch, it's a view of the asylum where he spent some of his last months. Up until her death in March last year, Taylor had kept the painting in the living room of her home.

A new world record for the work of Robert Delaunay, whose "Tour Eiffel" from 1925 was featured last fall on the Arts Voyager, was set by his painting of the same name created in 1926, which sold for $5,904,855, after a pre-sale estimate of $2,365,500 - $3,942,500.

Falling short of expectations was Edgar Degas's "Danseuse rajustant ses epaulettes," which had been estimated at $4,731,000 - $6,308,000 and went for $3,597,531.

Significant for the work itself was "Le Livre, 1914 - 1915" by Juan Gris, which sold for $16,345,495. (It had been estimated at $18,924,000 - $28,386,000.) Executed in Paris between the end of 1914 and the start of 1915, the painting marks the artist's change of stylistic approach to working from an abstract compositional armature towards its subject matter. First shown at the major post-war Cubism exhibition at the Galerie de France, Paris, in 1945 and subsequently shown throughout Europe and America in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, it was then unseen for 30 years until the 2005 retrospective in Madrid.

Overall, the two sales grossed $213,299,052, the Impressionism and Modern Art Evening Sale realizing 97,814,15 pounds ($154,546,357) after a pre-show estimate of maximum 97.7 million pounds, and the Art of the Surreal grossing 37,185,250 pounds ($58,752,752) after pre-sale estimates of 19.6 - 29.1 million pounds.


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