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Record for Matisse and Others at Christie's Sale of Yves Saint Laurent Collection

PARIS.- At tonight’s inaugural session of the sale of the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, offered by Christie’s in association with Pierre Bergé & Associates auctioneers, one of the most significant collections of Impressionist and Modern art in private hands today fell under the hammer under the glass domed roof of the Grand Palais. In the presence of over 1200 collectors from all over the world, 59 works of Impressionist and Modern Art sold for a total of $266 million, a world record for a private collection at auction and a record for the most valuable auction in Europe. The top lot of the evening was Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose, 1911 by Henri Matisse, which sold for $46.4 million, the highest price ever achieved for a work by the artist at auction, and 8 works of art sold for over €5 million. 25 works of art sold for over €1 million (24 lots for over £1 million / 25 lots over $1 million). Buyer activity at the auction (by lot / by origin) was 70% Europe and 30% Americas and 7 world records were set for artists at auction, including Matisse, Brancusi, Mondrian, De Chirico, Duchamp, Klee and Ensor.

"Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose" (Cuckoos on a blue and pink carpet), a still life painted in 1911 by French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) reached $46.4 million, in an auction that, as a sale of a private collection,reached a record $261 million.

This is the highest amount ever paid for a Matisse at auction, which sold almost at the end of a session that lasted two hours.

Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose, painted in the spring of 1911, belongs to a long experimental sequence based in these years on flowers or fruit and textiles. This particular sub-series was inspired by the Nature morte au géranium of 1910, a canvas which aroused such passionate enthusiasm in Wassily Kandinsky that he persuaded the Russian collector, Sergei Shchukin, to commission two more still-lifes of the same size on the same theme that winter.

The Matisse was followed by a sculpture by Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), "Portrait of Madame LR", which sold for the second highest price of $33 million.

Madame L.R. (Portrait of Mme L.R.) is a magnificent example of Brancusi's earliest sculptures in wood, which present a material and a carving technique, an iconography and an intention that are indeed far removed from his more typical production. Whereas, to take for example, his most famous motif, L'oiseau dans l'espace, is soaring, spiritual, and almost immaterial, the wood sculptures are solid, grounded and mysteriously enigmatic. They are no less essential to the appreciation and understanding of his oeuvre.

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), who inspired Saint Laurent´s Fall Collection in 1965 was a star at tonight´s auction, which will have two more sessions. Mondrian´s "Composition avec bleu, rouge, jaune et noir" reached $24 million which established another record.

Composition with blue, red, yellow and black, 1922 belongs to a small group of highly dynamic paintings, whose imbalance -- or at least tension and instability -- provides a violent contrast to the calmer works of the previous year. These represent Mondrian's first works of a genuinely Neo-Plastic style.

"By contrast, the much-anticipated Pablo Picasso work "Musical Instruments on a Table" flopped. Bidding fell short of the 25 million euro guide price, the biggest in the collection, and the piece was withdrawn unsold", reported The Telegraph.

"I'm very happy because now I can keep it," Berge saidto AFP. "Not only did this sale attain an unexpected sum, but on top of that I won a Picasso."

Fernand Léger’s great mechanical paintings of 1918 and 1919, painted during one of his most brilliant periods drew significant attention: Composition, dans l’usine, 1918 sold for $7,185,027 million. La tasse de thé, 1921, sold for $14.8 million.

Other works such as the elegant Dancers and Sphere by Alexander Calder sold for $2 million. The ready-made masterpiece “La Belle Haleine – Eau de Voilette” by Marcel Duchamp, with the assistance by Man Ray in 1921, witnessed fierce bidding in the room and realized $11.5 million, nearly 9 times its estimate, a world auction record for the artist.

Elsewhere in the sale, James Ensor’s monumental Le désespoir de Pierrot, the most important work of art by the artist to be presented at auction in the last 25 years, and since the very same composition was last seen at auction in the early 1980s, sold for $6.4 million, a world record for the artist at auction.

Thomas Seydoux, International Head of Impressionist and Modern Art said: “This record sale, which achieved the highest total for any auction in Europe, and the most valuable private collection ever sold at auction in the world, was a tribute to two great men: Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent. Collectors, gathered in the largest saleroom that Christie’s has ever seated, responded to the opportunity of a lifetime to buy into a Collection carefully assembled over almost five decades. There was significant bidding on the telephone from a deep pool of international buyers and many rare and exceptional works, each with impeccable provenance and condition, set world record prices for artists at auction. This historical sale demonstrated the timeless appeal of Impressionist and Modern art, this long-established and highly valued category.”

ARTIST RECORDS:

Lot 17
James Ensor (1860-1949)
Le désespoir de Pierrot (Pierrot le jaloux), 1892
Oil on canvas
Estimate: €2,000,000-3,000,000
Sold for: €4,993,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION

Lot 35
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1857)
Madame L.R. (Portrait de Mme L.R.), circa 1914-17
Carved oak
Estimate: €15,000,000-20,000,000
Sold for: €29,185,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION

Lot 37
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Belle haleine – Eau de voilette, 1921
Oval violet coloured cardboard box, brushed-glass perfume bottle
Estimate: €1,000,000-1,500,000
Sold for: €8,913,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION

Lot 42
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Composition avec bleu, rouge, jaune et noir, 1922
Oil on canvas
Estimate: €7,000,000-10,000,000
Sold for: €21,569,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION

Lot 55
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose, 1911
Oil on canvas
Estimate: €12,000,000-18,000,000
Sold for: €35,905,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION

Lot 57
Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Il Ritornante, 1918
Oil on canvas
Estimate: €7,000,000-10,000,000
Sold for: €11,041,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION

Lot 61
Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Gartenfigur, 1932
Oil on canvas
Estimate: €600,000-900,000
Sold for: €3,985,000
WORLD RECORD FOR ARTIST AT AUCTION


Tuesday 24 February 2pm: Old Master and 19th Century Paintings and Drawings
Tuesday 24 February 3pm: Silver, Miniatures and Objets de Vertu
Tuesday 24 February 6pm: 20th Century Decorative Arts
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Today's News

February 24, 2009

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Record for Matisse and Others at Christie's Sale of Yves Saint Laurent Collection

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Exhibition of Paintings by the Italian Artist Tarshito to Open at The Nehru Centre

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Sotheby's Opens an Office in Jakarta and Appoints Deborah Iskandar as Managing Director

Thomas Chambers: American Marine and Landscape Painter on Exhibit at Hyde Collection

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$45,000 Burns Manuscript Joins The Homecoming

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4.- United States pastor Kevin Sutherland convicted over Damien Hirst fake paintings

5.- Major exhibition at Pinacothèque de Paris explores the myth of Cleopatra

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7.- Landmark exhibition opens in New York exploring the ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia

8.- Palm-sized scroll that mentions Jesus's wife is ancient: Harvard Theological Review

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