Impressionist and Leading Modern Art at Christie’s

A Return of Market Confidence? 

  • This year’s sale was a remarkable 483% up on Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Sale in June 2016, which totalled a meagre £25.5 million ($33.1 million) with fees — a result which was attributed to market uncertainty ahead of the UK’s historic Brexit vote.

Auctioneer and Global President Jussi Pylkännen selling Max Beckmann’s Hölle der Vögel (Birds’ Hell), 1937-38. Sold for £36,005,000 ($45,834,362) against an estimate of £30,000,000.

  • Though the sale surpassed Sotheby’s results, it still fell short of Christie’s own total estimate of £141.3-191.7 million, with high-value lots falling short of their estimates or failing to sell — Egon Schiele’s sombre 1915 painting Individual Houses (with Mountains), estimated at £20-30 million, failed to attract a single bid.

New Artist Records 

  • Max Beckmann’s Birds’ Hell (1937–8) sold for £36,005,000 ($45,834,365) — a new auction record for the artist and the highest price ever achieved at auction for a work of German Expressionism. The work, which reflects on the horrors of the Nazi regime, was purchased by dealer Larry Gagosian.
  • Additional records were achieved at a lower price point for works by Georges Vantongerloo and Hannah Höch, both of which shot to £1,085,000, against estimates of £350,000-450,000 — £400,000-600,000 respectively.
  • Like Sotheby’s, Christie’s sale saw three works sell for over £20 million — previously unprecedented in any London auction. Market insiders noted strong participation from Asian buyers across both houses.
  • The second highest-selling lot of the sale was Pablo Picasso’s Femme écrivant (Marie-Thérèse) (1934), which realized £34,885,000 ($44,408,60) — its estimate jumping from £25-40 million to £30-40 million just before the sale.
  • Painted a year before the artist took his own life, Van Gogh’s Le moissonneur (d’après Millet) became the third highest-selling lot of the evening, realizing £24,245,000 ($30,863,883) against an estimate of £12,500,000-16,500,000.

Chagall Leads Day Sale 

  • The Impressionist and Modern Day sale on 28 June realized £10,686,000, nearly £10,000,000 less than Sotheby’s equivalent sale on 22 June, which totalled £19,641,250 ($24,912,962).
  • The top lot was Marc Chagall’s Ane bleu (circa 1978), sold for £665,000 ($851,200) against an estimate of £350,000-550,000 ($445,550-700,150).