GENEVA.- Last night, the painting of the final preparatory study for the « Berceau de la Confédération » painted by Charles Giron (1850-1914) for the chamber of the National Council in the Federal Palace changed hands for the grand total of 522,880 Swiss francs (EUR 426,560, USD 579,350), establishing a new world record in all categories for this artist (lot 1181). This painting, a gift from the artist to the previous President of the Confederation, Adrien Lachenal, had been kept in the same family for over 100 years. The sale of such a work provoked large scale enthusiasm amongst the huge amount of bidders in the room and on the telephones. The latter consisted mainly of museums, institutions and private Swiss collectors. In front of a captivated saleroom, two bidders thrashed it out at length to become the new owner of this important symbolic work of Swiss history. The winning bidder declared having bought the work to ensure it remained in Switzerland. Bernard Piguet, CEO and Chief Auctioneer of Hôtel des Ventes, is elated:
« We are absolutely delighted at this extraordinary and highly emotional result which also reflects the strong interest in art not only by our institutions, but also by private collectors ».
Setting the tone for the rest of the week, the Fine Wines sale saw 100% of lots sold. The collectors, plentiful in the room and on the phones, battled out the bidding especially for the Grands Crus classes (Margaux, Haut-Brion, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour
). More than half of the lots doubled, if not tripled their estimates. It must be said that the collection proposed by Genevas Hôtel des Ventes benefitted from an exceptional provenance and storage conditions. This veritable bargain for collectors and real guarantee for investors truly drew in the crowds.
The same enthusiasm was seen for the Archaeology sale during which many beautiful antiquities, notably Greek vases (lot 208 31,600 Swiss francs) and Roman marble statues (lot 224 79,000 Swiss francs) sold very well. These results confirm the tendency for prices to explode the moment the pieces are accompanied by an historical account or a particular provenance, which was the case for the top lot of this sale: a terracotta amphora decorated in black with characters, attributed to Peintre du Louvre and dated to the 6th Century BC, sold 115,520 Swiss francs (EUR 94220, USD 127940), being 11 times its low estimate (lot 266).
Bernard Piguet observes: « Buyers are willing to spend up to 10 or even 20 times the usual price for an object if they know exactly where it has come from. It is a market trend that strengthens from year to year with evermore vigour ».
On Wednesday morning, the Asian and Oriental Art sale from the Callenberg collection consigned in Lausanne, did not contradict. The proof was in the numerous Chinese bidders present for the auction.
From the same Callenberg collection came a small bronze Renaissance Lion creating Tuesday evenings surprise by selling for 127,680 Swiss francs (EUR 104160, USD 141430). This work is attributed to Barthélemy Prieur (1536-1611), whose other lions are conserved at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Aside from these spectacular results, many hundreds of lots sold for under 300 Swiss francs allowing those with lesser budgets to find a bargain.