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Sotheby's Summer Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in London total $139.9m
Joan Miró, Peinture (Étoile Bleue). Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s two-day sale series of Impressionist & Modern Art concluded realising a combined total of £89.2m / $139.9m / €110.7m. This brings the total for Impressionist & Modern Art sold worldwide at Sotheby’s so far this year to £449m / $719m / €513m -a 12% increase on the same period last year,and the second highest year-to-date total for worldwide sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in the company’s history.*

The star of this season’s Impressionist & Modern Art sales was undoubtedly Joan Miró’s Peinture (Étoile Bleue) which sold for £23,561,250 / $36,946,396 /€29,260,764–the highest price achieved across all London auction houses this week and a strong new record for the artist at auction.**

Commenting on the week’s sales, Helena Newman, Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department, Europe, said: “The exceptional price for Miró’s Peinture (Étoile Bleue) reflects the continuing demand from collectors around the world for the best examples of 20th-century art.”

Joan Miró’s Peinture (Étoile Bleue)
Identified by the artist as a work that was key to his oeuvre, Peinture (Étoile Bleue), executed in 1927, belongs to the seminal ‘dream paintings’ cycle - in which Miró pioneered a uniquely poetic form of abstraction - examples of which can be found in major international museums such as the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate Gallery, London and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This landmark work was formerly in the collection of André Lefevre, a leading collector and connoisseur of early 20th century art. The price achieved on Tuesday evening shattered the previous record for the artist (set only four months ago at £16.8 million) and is three times the sum (£ 8.35 m / €11,586,520 / $16,673,650) achieved when the painting sold at auction in 2007.

Highest price for sculpture at auction this week
Sotheby’s also achieved the top selling price for sculpture in London this week with Henry Moore’s Mother and Child which sold for £3,737,250/ $5,860,382/ €4,641,298 (est. £ 1.8 –2.8 million / US$ 2.9-4.4 million / € 2.2-3.4 million***) - a record for an indoor sculpture by the artist. Five bidders competed for this work which was owned by the same family since 1957, who bought it for £650.

Other notable prices
• Pablo Picasso’s monumental late portrait Homme assis, executed in 1972, a year before his death, realised £6,201,250/ $9,724,180/ €7,701,345 (est: £ 6-9 million / US$ 9.50-14.2 million / € 7.4-11 million).

• A remarkable and rare group of watercolours by Wassily Kandinsky from a Distinguished Private Collection made a combined total of £4,832,750 / $7,578,235 /€6,001,802 against a combined pre-sale estimate of £3.85 -4.95 million. Perfectly exemplifying their respective periods, the works act as a survey of the artist’s entire career.

• Pierre Bonnard’s Nu Debout, a 1930 masterpiece from the collection of Mr and Mrs John D. Rockefeller 3rd sold for £4,521,250 /$7,089,772 /€5,614,950, a record for a nude by the artist ( est. £ 4.5-5.5 million / US$ 7.1-8.7 million / € 5.5-6.8 million). Interest in Bonnard’s nudes has been particularly strong in recent months following the landmark exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler.

Statistics for Sotheby’s two-day sale series of Impressionist & Modern Art

Sale Total Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art 19th June 2012 £75,046,850/$117,680,965 / €93,200,835

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale 20th June 2012
£14,104,750 / $22,183,951 / €17,499,784

Average lot value for works sold in the Evening Sale £2.27m / $3.57m/ €2.82m. 23 works sold for over $1 million (48% of the works offered). 15 works sold for over £1 million (31% of the works offered). Bidders from 38 countries were active in the evening and day sales of Impressionist & Modern Art.

* This year-to-date result is equal to that achieved for sales of Impressionist & Modern Art sales at Sotheby’s worldwide in 2008 –also $719m. The highest year-to-date total achieved for Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby’s was in 2010 -$749 m.

**The previous auction record for Joan Miró was $ 16.8 million.

***Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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