sale of Important Design was led by a one-of-a-kind hippopotamus themed bathroom suite, which sold for 2.1 million / $2.4 million (lot 115, est. 2-2.5 million). Designed by François-Xavier Lalanne, an artist renowned for his ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, the three bronze life-size hippopotamuses - a mother and children feature moveable parts that reveal a bathroom set like no other, comprising a bathtub, working sink and vanity, toilet and bidet. Commissioned in the nineties by the present owner, the sale marked the first time the spectacular piece has been offered at auction.
A further five works by the designer were offered in the Important Design sale, which totalled 11.2 million / $12.6 million, soaring above its pre-sale estimate of 7.1-10 million. 82% of the lots offered were sold, with 70% of those exceeding their high estimates. The auction saw 52% of its participants bid online, and over a third of all bidders were aged 40 or younger. Among the other pieces offered by Lalanne was Lapin à Vent, which leaped beyond its high estimate to sell for 1.9 million / $2.2 million (est. 1-1.5 million) the second highest price achieved in the sale.
Further Highlights: Aigle Vase by Alberto Giacometti more than doubled its high estimate to bring a total of 1.5 million / $1.6 million (lot 51, est. 400.000-600.000) in its auction debut. This is the second highest price realised for a vase by the artist, following Giacomettis "Aigle Vase that sold for $1.9 million at Sothebys New York in December 2019.
Two tables from the Art Déco period both exceeded their estimates in yesterdays sale: made in 1930, Eugène Printz and Jean Dunands table tripled its high estimate, bringing a total of 225.000 / $252,662 (lot 30, 60.000-80.000), while Eileen Grays pine design reached 275.000 / $308,808 (lot 35, est. 120.000-150.000).
This week, two sales of Contemporary Art reached a combined total of 19.8 million / $22.3 million. Sothebys Evening Sale in Paris realised 15.4 million / $17.3 million, with a sell-through rate of 80%. The Day Sale also achieved 4.4 million / $5 million, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of 2.7-4 million. More than 90% of the lots offered were sold a record sell through rate for a Contemporary Day Sale staged by Sothebys France.
Top Lot: The evening auction was led by Pierre Soulages masterpiece Peinture 130 x 162 cm, 14 avril 1957. Having remained in the same private European collection for over twenty-five years, bidders competed for the work, pushing the final price to 4.4 million / $4.9 million (lot 7, est. 3-5 million). Elsewhere in the sale, two further works by the artist were offered: Peinture 65 x 50 cm that sold for 1.1 million / $1.2 million (lot 9, est. 500.000-700.000) and Gouache 65 x 50.5 cm, which realised 336.500 / $379,851 (lot 6, est. 120.000-180.000).
Further Highlights: Three paintings by Zao Wou-Ki were among the highest prices achieved on the night. Hailing from the private collection of Arthur T. Hadley II, a prominent journalist for Newsweek and New York Herald Tribune, Wou-Kis monumental, 10.2.81, led this group of works after reaching 2.8 million / $3.1 million (lot 4, est. 2.4-2.8 million). From the same collection, the artists large-format composition, the title of which pays tribute to his late brother, A la memoire de mon frere Wu-Wai (11.02.79), realised 1.9 million / $2.2 million (lot 3, est. 1.8-2.5 million). A third painting titled 17.5.63 from an esteemed Irish collection sold for 1.8 million / $2 million (lot 10, est. 1.5-2 million).