LONDON.- Sotheby’s staged the first of its bi-annual sales of Greek Art in London this afternoon before a packed saleroom and frenzied telephone bank. The sale, which was the company’s most important Greek sale to date, lived up to expectations by realising £9,566,050, the highest ever total for any sale of Greek Art at any auction house. It comfortably exceeded the previous record of £8.1 million, which was set by Sotheby’s in November last year and surpassed its pre-sale expectations of £5.9 – 8.7 million. 19 new auction records were established including those for Georgios Jakobides, Pavlos Dionyssopoulos and Panayiotis Tetsis, among others. More than 60% of the lots sold in excess of their pre-sale high estimate.
Constantine Frangos, Senior Director and Specialist in Charge of the Greek Sales at Sotheby’s, commented: “Sotheby’s continues to dominate the market for Greek Art, a market which is really flourishing and receiving an ever greater spotlight on the international stage. Our sales are constantly seeing new benchmarks set, with results continually outstripping records that have only just been established. Bidding today once again came from a very international crowd, who were prepared to bid high to acquire both high quality 19th-century works and more modern 20th-century pieces. It continues to be an exciting and buoyant time for the Greek Art market and we look forward to our second sale of the year in November.”
The highlights of this afternoon’s sale were plentiful; here is a selection:
• An intimate yet comical work by Georges Jakobides – entitled Grandpa’s New Pipe - sold for £535,700 against its pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000; this was the top selling lot of the whole sale as well as an auction record for the artist. It was hotly contested by five bidders but eventually sold to a bidder on the phone. Grandpa’s New Pipe (lot 9) is a quintessential genre scene which is full of vitality, expression and sentiment and Jakobides himself actually acknowledged it as one of his most important paintings. Five further works by Jakobides also performed exceptionally well including Maternal Affection (lot 7), which sold for £114,500 and Playtime (lot 6) which realised £38,900.
• All ten works by Constantinos Volanakis sold and realised in excess of £2 million. The group represented the most important group of paintings by the artist ever to appear at auction. The star of the group was his marine painting, Along the Coast (lot 16), which was bought by a bidder for £423,700 against the pre-sale estimate of £300,000-500,000. This painting shows Volanakis at his greatest, sensitively and delicately depicting the atmospheric conditions and natural elements of the setting. Other notable works in the Volanakis group were Sunset Over a Greek Port (lot 22) which sold for £322,900 and Along the Coast, Volos (lot 20), which realised £334,100.
• Works by the father of Modern Greek painting, Constantinos Parthenis, were also in great demand. His elegant, A Tree-Lined Road (lot 5), sold to a collector in the room for £276,500 – more than double the pre-sale high estimate of £120,000.
• Three works by Yiannis Spyropoulos - another master of 20th-century Greek Art - made a dynamic start to the sale. The artist’s oil Cleopatra (lot 4) fetched £132,500 against an estimate of £40,000-60,000; a new record for the artist. Lots 1 and 2 – respectively entitled An Island Port and Landscape with Houses – also flew above their estimates. In total, nine works by Spyropoulos were offered and they fetched a combined total of £522,800.
• Star performers among the Contemporary works in the sale were Pavlos Dionyssopoulos’ unusual paper and plexiglass work Champ (Field) (lot 73), which sold for £90,500 - an auction record for the artist - and Panayiotis Tetsis’ Thalatta (lot 43), which brought £144,500 - also an auction record for the artist.