Evening Sale of Contemporary Art totalled 9.3m, led by Jean-Michel Basquiat's iconic Water-Worshipper (1984) at 2,416,750. This magnificent painting echoes Basquiat's Haitian origins, combining personal cultural memories with the evocation of oppressed minorities in the Americas.
The second highest price in this first session, 1,352,750, went to Jean Dubuffet's monumental sculpture Métalogie aux Turbulences (1971) from his celebrated Hourloupe cycle, with its flat expanses of red, blue, white and black a contrasting approach to his earlier works, with texture banished in favour of compartmentalized surfaces of flat colour, an approach Dubuffet also used for paintings and installations.
The sale posted world record prices for two European artists: Germany's Emil Schumacher 480,750 for his Solluk (1962); and Czech artist Josef Sima 288,750 for Fall of Icarus II (1959), evoking the famous myth "like a luminous whirlwind disintegrating earthly matter, transformed into light as if during a cosmic catastrophe" (Frantizek Smejkal).
Meanwhile the Day Sale on December 8 saw the international art market confirm the current demand for sculptures by Robert Indiana and César. Robert Indiana's celebrated sculpture Love from 1966, in a version made in 1998, posted the session's top price of 228,750. César's impressive automobile compression Shock Red 165, shown at the Cartier Foundation in 2008 and from his famous 1998 series of monochrome compressions made from Fiat cars, sold in line with the high estimate for 202,350.
André Masson's Masterpiece Gradiva (1939) pre-empted by the Centre Pompidou for 2.3m
The results obtained here this evening paid tribute to the Surrealists. It was the first time since Sothebys began staging sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in Paris that an auction has had such a strong Surrealist feel.
Outstanding prices heralded the overall quality of this highly selective sale, whose 77 lots brought 15.5m well clear of the combined high estimate of 14.3m.
In the words of Samuel Valette, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art: "Given that Surrealism is a speciality of our department, obtaining records for Masson, Man Ray and Toyen during the same sale is a wonderful achievement!"
Sotheby's were also honoured to offer eight remarkable paintings and photographs by Man Ray, from the Collection of Georgia & George Blaine (total: 1.6m). The celebrated composition Les Beaux Temps fetched 1,520,750 to establish a new world record for Man Ray at auction.
Meanwhile the international art market again confirmed the insatiable demand for Picasso: his two superb Large Vases with Dancers, designed in 1950 and sublime examples of his ceramic output during his Vallauris years, sold jointly for 625,500.
The evening's highest price, 2,360,750, went to André Masson's 1939 masterpiece Gradiva. It was pre-empted by the Centre Pompidou.