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French record for René Magritte with the sale of "La Grande Table" for $6.6 million
René Magritte, La Grande Table. Huile sur toile, 54,3x65,4 cm. Peint vers 1962-63. Estimate: 3-5 M€. Photo: Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio.

PARIS.- The sale of the Zaira & Marsel Mis Collection at Sotheby’s France attracted a packed saleroom, with 30 phone lines a-crackle with bids from around the world. Oliver Barker, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and the renowned director of Sotheby’s contemporary art sales in London, was wielding the gavel in Paris for the first time.

Thomas Bompard, Head of the Impressionist & Modern Art Department at Sotheby’s France, declared afterwards that ‘We are naturally delighted that Zaira and Marsel Mis were so handsomely rewarded for assembling such a strong and bold collection – and for their confidence in the ability of Sotheby’s France to make this sale the biggest event of the Paris Autumn season. We are also indebted to Stefano Moreni and Monique Brehier for bringing to Paris a sale that will long remain in people’s hearts and memories.’

To Stefano Moreni, Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s France, ‘A collection of Belgian provenance sold by a British auctioneer in a Paris saleroom with buyers from around the globe: this sale summed up what Sotheby’s France is all about!’

The sale got off to an explosive start with a series of works from key periods of the career of the great Belgian Surrealist René Magritte. Leading the way was his extraordinary La Grande Table (c.1962/3), a mature work that offers a marvellous variation on one of his favourite themes – the apple. At €5,104,750 ($6.595.490), the painting set a new record price for René Magritte in France (lot 7).

La Parure de l’Orage (1927), to be shown in the exhibition Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938 at the New York MoMA next year (and at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2014), soared to €1,464,750 ($1,892,501) (lot 9, est. €1-1.5m*).

Andy Warhol’s Four Multicoloured Marilyns (Reversal Series), revisiting his iconic Marilyn portrait in the late 1970s, posted the evening’s second-highest price of €3,200,750 ($4,135,465) (lot 23, est. €1.5-2m). The work saw Warhol underline his tremendous creativity by confronting his artistic past – emerging as a pioneer of Post-Modernism, and paving the way for Jeff Koons.

A 1961 Calder Mobile flew to €3,032,750 ($3,918,404), ranking third in the sale’s Top Ten. Connoisseurs were attracted by its pure, free-flowing yet tightly defined outlines, and propelled this unique work well past its €1.5m top-estimate of (lot 25).

Zaira Mis promoted Italian contemporary art throughout her career, assembling a richly varied private collection. The market proved the wisdom of her approach by sending a spate of works by Lucio Fontana and Alighiero Boetti past estimate, led by Fontana’s 1962 Concetto Spaziale – New York 8, from his Metalli series, that sold for €1,083,950 ($1,400,496) (lot 27, est. €600,000-800,000), followed by a small format Concetto Spaziale – Attesa (1959) that claimed €372,750 ($481.600) against a high estimate of €200,000 (lot 26). One of Boetti’s earliest tapestries, Alternando
da uno a Cento e Viceversa (1977), climbed to €300,750 ($388.760) (lot 34, est. €180,000-250,000).

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