First quarter of 2013 vs 2012

[26 Apr 2013]


Friday is Top day! Every other Friday, Artprice publishes a theme-based auction ranking. This week: the top ten sale prices achieved in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012.

A series of set criteria have to be met in order to be included in the Top 10 of quarterly auctions. The first of these is a sale price of at least $10 million, and in 90% of cases this hammer price is achieved in London at one of the Impressionist or Modern Art sales held at Christie’s or Sotheby’s. The exceptions that prove the rule serve as a reminder that the high-end market for the same period also plays out more sporadically in New York (where Impressionist and Modern Art sales are held each year in May) and in China (where the historical calligraphies of EMPEROR HUIZONG were ranked fourth at auction during the first quarter of 2012).

Top 10 : the top ten sale prices achieved in the first quarter of 2013…

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Pablo PICASSO $40088550 Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (1932) 02/05/2013 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
2 Amedeo MODIGLIANI $37752000 Jeanne Hébuterne (Au chapeau) (1919) 02/06/2013 (Christie’s LONDON)
3 Francis BACON $19282720 « Three Studies for a Self-Portrait » (1980) 02/12/2013 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
4 Pierre-Auguste RENOIR $13527800 L’ombrelle (1878) 02/06/2013 (Christie’s LONDON)
5 Jean-Michel BASQUIAT $12981200 Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown) (1983) 02/13/2013 (Christie’s LONDON)
6 Claude MONET $12576800 Nymphéas avec reflets de hautes herbes (1914/17) 02/05/2013 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
7 Claude MONET $12262380 Le Givre à Giverny (1885) 02/05/2013 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
8 Joan MIRO $11790750 « Femme rêvant de l’évasion » (1945) 02/05/2013 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
9 Gerhard RICHTER $11730000 Abstraktes Bild (2004) 02/13/2013 (Christie’s LONDON)
10 Bartolomeo DELLA PORTA $11500000 The Madonna and Child () 01/30/2013 (Christie’s NEW YORK NY)

Top 10 : … compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Francis BACON $29999100 « Portrait of Henrietta Moraes » (1963) 02/14/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
2 Henry MOORE $26841300 Reclining Figure : Festival (1951) 02/07/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
3 Joan MIRO $23683500 Painting Poem (Le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte h (1925) 02/07/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
4 EMPEROR HUIZONG $22120000 Calligraphy (1104) 01/02/2012 (Chinese Culture Art Auction Co. Ltd ??)
5 Juan GRIS $14525880 Le livre (1915) 02/07/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
6 Vincent VAN GOGH $14210100 Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle de Saint Rémy (1889) 02/07/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
7 Gerhard RICHTER $13894320 Abstraktes Bild (1994) 02/14/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
8 Paul SIGNAC $12315420 La Corne d’Or, Constantinople (1907) 02/07/2012 (Christie’s LONDON)
9 Claude MONET $11557360 L’Entrée de Giverny en Hiver (1885) 02/08/2012 (Sotheby’s LONDON)
10 Ernst Ludwig KIRCHNER $10290800 Das Boskett: Albertplatz in Dresden (The Bosquet: Albertplatz in Dresde (1911) 02/08/2012 (Sotheby’s LONDON)



In 2013, the high-end market is holding up well, with the quarterly Top ranking showing an increase of $4 million over that of 2012 (receipts excluding buyer’s premium in 2013 of $183.4 million compared to $179.4 million in 2012). The big names of the high-end market – those signatures that are sought after by the most powerful collectors on the planet – are first and foremost modern and contemporary artists. In 2012, as in 2013, the highest prices came from canvasses by Claude MONET, Joan MIRO, Francis BACON and Gerhard RICHTER (the only living artist in this ranking).
Last year’s most notable absentee, Pablo PICASSO, made a comeback in the London sales in February 2013 thanks to a canvas painted in 1932 – a special year for both the artist and the market.

Picasso in 1932
Offering a 1932 Picasso at a major auction provides the promise of a multi-million-dollar sale. Half of the works in the artist’s Top 10 of auction sales originate from 1932. In that year, he was still married to the dancer Olga Khokhlova but was already involved with Marie-Thérese Walter (with whom he would have Maya) and the Kunsthaus Zürich staged his very first retrospective.
Femme assise près d’une fenêtre is a depiction of Marie-Thérese Walter dating from 1932. Selling for more than $40 million on 5 February 2013, this painting has now become the ninth most expensive work by the artist, with the front runners in terms of sales price including four others from the same year: Le Rêve (sold for $44 million, 10/11/1997, Christie’s New York), Nu au fauteuil noir ($41 million, 09/11/1999, Christie’s New York), Nature morte aux tulipes ($37 million, 08/11/2012, Sotheby’s New York) and the record price for the artist achieved by Nude, Green Leaves and Bust ($95 million, 04/05/2010, Christie’s New York).

Femme assise près d’une fenêtre is an oil on canvas measuring 146 cm x 114 cm, sold within the Sotheby’s estimate range of £25 – £35 million (£25.5 million). This painting had previously been auctioned in 1997 at Christie’s in New York, where it fetched $6.8 million (£4.1 million). With 16 years and over 33 million dollars separating the first and second sales, the value of this work has increased by almost 490%! The romantic subject, its bold composition, its hints of Matisse, the majesty of its dimensions and the cachet of this famous year of 1932 all serve to explain Sotheby’s high estimate, which even suggested that the work could have sold for some millions more.No Picasso work of this stature graced the major Impressionist and Modern Art sales during the first quarter of 2012. This explains the notable absence of Pablo Picasso in that period’s rankings and the cost of entry to the Top 2013, which is $10 million higher than last year.

Artists and their muses
Another rarity: Amedeo MODIGLIANI claims second place in the Top 2013 thanks to his portrait Jeanne Hébuterne (Au chapeau), executed in 1919, two years after finding his muse. Are major collectors incurable romantics? They are certainly hopelessly in love with artists’ histories as depicted in the subject of their works. They exalt the love story of Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter and the tragic story of Modigliani and the young Jeanne Hébuterne, who leapt from a window when she was just 21, shortly after the artist’s death.

The portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne (au chapeau) was sold for $37.7 million (£24 million) at Christie’s on 6 February 2013, making it Modigliani’s second most expensive painting. And following the example of Picasso’s Femme assise près d’une fenêtre, Jeanne Hébuterne (au chapeau) has also made frequent appearances in the sales rooms, including once in 1997. On its return to the market after 16 years, its value rocketed by 333%, gaining over $29 million on its 1997 sale price of $8.7 million. Paintings of Jeanne Hébuterne are very rare (fewer than 20 works have come up for sale over the last 20 years), which explains the spectacularly high bids when one of these masterpieces surfaces in the auction rooms.

Is the Top list getting younger?
London is the capital of the art market during the first quarter of each year and its sales naturally focus on European Modern and Impressionist artists (who take up six places in 2013 and seven in 2012). The auction houses take great care in the way they orchestrate these sessions as the Impressionist and Modern Art sector represents more than half of their annual auction receipts.
Nevertheless, the scarcity of these works has led to a certain rejuvenation of the Top list, as is shown by the presence of Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel BASQUIAT and above all Gerhard Richter. In 2012, a 1963 canvas signed by Bacon took first place in the quarterly rankings. Following in the footsteps of the above mentioned works by Picasso and Modigliani, Bacon’s portrait of Henrietta Moraes brought in the equivalent of $29.99 million. And Francis Bacon fared even better at the New York sales in May 2012 with his Figure Writing Reflected In Mirror (1976), which sold for its high estimate of $40 million (9th May at Sotheby’s New York). Here too, this work addresses an intimate subject, that of the artist’s lover and favourite model, George Dyer.