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Sotheby's Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in Paris Totals $11.7 Million
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Hiver, huile sur toile, 1960. Estimate: €600,000 - 800,000. Sold for: €1,095,150 (1,343,968 USD). A new auction record for the artist. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- Yesterday in Paris, Sotheby’s Summer Evening Sale of Contemporary Art achieved a successful total of €9,517,050 / $11,679,324 / £7,932,168, a figure well above the pre-sale expectations of €5.1-7.0 million / $6.3-8.6 million / £4.2-5.8 million. The sale achieved exemplary sell through rates of 93% by lot and almost 100% by value and these rank as some of the highest sell through rates ever seen in a Contemporary Art sale at Sotheby’s Paris. In addition, the sale saw two works sell for more than €1 million and a remarkable 74% of the sold lots realise prices in excess of their high estimate. Buyers from all over the world competed in tonight’s sale, once again demonstrating the international stature of the Paris Contemporary Art market.

Commenting after the sale, Grégoire Billault, Director of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department in Paris, said: “Since we started our Contemporary Art sales at Sotheby’s in Paris in 2006, our main focus has always been on the advancement of French Contemporary art and French Contemporary artists. We have transformed the auction profile for artists like Pierre Soulages, Georges Mathieu, François Morellet, Martial Raysse and Simon Hantaï by achieving new world record prices for their works of art. In each of our sales, one or several French artists have received worldwide exposure – thanks to Sotheby’s international network and reach – and tonight it was the turn of Helena Vieira da Silva, Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé and Erró to get the international recognition that they so deserved.”

Among the many successes of tonight’s sale was the new auction record price that was established for Helena Vieira da Silva when her rare and monumental painting L’Hiver – a brilliant impressionistic composition of a city in winter – sold for €1,095,150 / $1,343,968 against an estimate of €600,000-800,000. This painting came to the market with superb provenance having been part of the collection of Baron Elie de Rothschild for many years and having hung during this time in the Baron’s private lounge.

A second auction record was also set when Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé’s explosive Boulevard St-Martin sold for €312,750 / $383,807, against the estimate of €150,000-200,000, after bidding from at least four potential buyers. This price more than doubles the previous auction record for the artist. The painting was without doubt one of the finest works by the French artist to have remained in private hands and this rare acquisition opportunity was clearly recognised by collectors this evening.

Baby Rockefeller by Erró also performed well, selling for €552,750 / $678,335, easily above the estimate of €200,000-300,000 and the second highest price ever achieved for the artist at auction. This important and large scale canvas, from the Back from the USA series, was painted after Erró’s first trip to New York, and it shows similarities to leading works of American Pop Art.

Paris, like the other international selling centres of Contemporary Art, is able to attract international collectors and achieve strong prices for works by the great Contemporary artists of the 20th Century and this was shown once again tonight with the price realised for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Joy. This work saw competition from at least five potential buyers, who drove the price to €1,464,750 / $1,797,541, well in excess of the pre-sale expectations of €700,000-900,000. A work which energetically mixes several of the artist’s signature motifs, it is a powerful combination of street art, jazz, television, newspapers, anatomy, Negro history and heroes.

Sotheby’s successful track record of selling works by Robert Indiana in Paris continued as well tonight when the artist’s Love, Red brought €744,750 / $913,957, above the pre-sale estimate of €500,000-700,000. An icon of Pop Art, Indiana’s Love sculptures are undoubtedly his best known works.

Furthermore, a painting by Jean-Paul Riopelle, dating from 1950, saw bidding from numerous US collectors before it sold for €516,750 / $634,156, well in excess of its estimate of €150,000-200,000. The painting came from an important private European collection and with its rare dripping technique attracted a great deal of interest.

Finally, a number of Asian works were also highly sought after and perhaps created the most lively bidding battles of the evening. Zao Wouk-Ki’s 13 février 1992 received interest from no fewer than six bidders, who took the price to over three times the pre-sale high estimate. It finally sold for €960,750 / $1,179,032. The artist’s Composition was also the subject of great demand, realising €360,750 / $442,712 against an estimate of €100,000-150,000, and establishing a new record for the artist on paper.

Sotheby's | Contemporary Art | Grégoire Billault |

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