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Christie's Auction of Impressionist & Modern Art Realizes $207.4 Million
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Femme au chapeau, 1938. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2008.

LONDON.- This evening’s auction of Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale including The Art of the Surreal at Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, realised £105,372,000 ($207,372,096 /€139,617,900), the second highest total for an art auction in Europe. The top lot of the sale was Femme au chapeau, 1938, by Pablo Picasso that sold for £5,732,500 ($11,281,560/€7,595,563). Buyer activity at the auction was (by lot) 83% Europe including the United Kingdom, 15% Americas and 2% Asia.

Thomas Seydoux, European Head of Impressionist and Modern Art and Olivier Camu, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, London, commented: “Clients responded positively to this excellent selection of works of art reinforcing market confidence as we go forward into the year. Our team focussed on selecting works of art of the highest quality with superb provenance. Each was beautifully presented with thoroughly researched catalogue entries and importantly, with careful estimates to appeal to buyers. We are particularly pleased with the outcome of the private collections within the sale including the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Collection, the group of eight Schiele works on paper and the Dr. Neimeyer Collection of Schmidt-Rottluff works.”

The sale started strongly with nine works sold to raise funds for The Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation that realised a total of £11,683,000 ($22,992,144/€15,479,975). Highlights included L’Ouled Naïl, 1910, by Kees van Dongen, a depiction of a beautiful Ouled Nail dancer from Algeria that sold for a record price of £5,620,000 ($11,060,160/€7,446,500) (estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000). The collection also featured Alexej von Jawlensky’s (1864-1941), Mädchen mit roter Schleife, of 1911 that sold for £2,932,500 ($5,771,106/€3,885,563) (estimate: £1,800,000-2,500,000), the second highest price for a work by the artist at auction.

German and Austrian art continues to be well received and was led by a collection of eight works by Egon Schiele (1890-1918) which totaled £11,659,000 ($22,944,912/€15,448,175), sold to benefit the Neue Galerie in New York. Inspired in part by the monumental paintings of his mentor, Gustav Klimt, Schiele’s Mutter und Kind, 1910, sold for £2,932,500 ($5,771,160/€3,885,563).

Further sale highlights included Wassily Kandinsky’s (1866-1944) bold Herbstlandschaft mit Baum, 1910 that sold for £2,932,500 ($5,771,160/€3,885,563)(estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000). Four works by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) from The Collection of Dr Wilhelm Niemeyer realised £5,047,600 ($9,933,677/€6,688,070) and was led by Akte im Freien (Drei badende Frauen), 1913 (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000), one of the finest of the artists’ paintings to have come onto the market that sold for £3,044,500 ($5,991,576/€4,033,963), a world record price for the artist. Grüner Kopf, 1916-1917, also by Schmidt-Rottluff sold for £1,476,500 ($2,905,752/€1,956,363), against a pre-sale estimate of £250,000-350,000, establishing a world record for a sculpture by the artist.

The Art of the Surreal realized £12,578,400 ($24,754,291/€16,666,380) and sold 80% by lot and 88% by value, the second highest total for this category. Leading the sale was René Magritte’s (1898-1967) Le Printemps, circa 1965, which had been in a private collection for over 40 years and sold for £2,708,500 ($5,330,328/€3,588,763) (estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000). An iconic image of the ‘bird series’ by the artist, it is visually powerful but also highly poetic. An extremely rare and jewel-like ‘grattage’ based jungle work by Max Ernst (1891-1976), La conversion du feu depicting a Prometheus-like figure, part human part beast, in a jungle sold for £1,196,500 ($2,354,712/€1,585,363), establishing a record for a painting by the artist.

Record prices were established this evening for Kees van Dongen (for a work by the artist), Max Ernst (for a painting by the artist), Natalia Goncharova (for a work on paper by the artist); Gabriele Münter (for a work by the artist), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (for a work by the artist and in addition for a sculpture by the artist).

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