Maurice de Vlaminck: 60 years on…

[02 Jan 2018]

Will 2018 be as dynamic as 2017? Only time will tell… In the meantime, here is the last in our mini-series covering 2017’s highlights. The last two months of 2017 generated some major auction results, including some of the most impressive world records the art market has ever seen.

Artprice’s twentieth birthday

Artprice celebrated its 20th anniversary and announced the creation of three new indices, including the Artprice100: a new indicator focused exclusively on the top one hundred artists dominating the Art Market. The Artprice 100 has been designed to eliminate the most volatile performances in order minimise the impact of speculation and fashion.

$450 million: new world record

The $450 million paid for LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519)’s Salvator Mundi marks an absolute record in the auction market’s long history, more than doubling the previous world record. It totally demolishes the previous record for an Old Master artwork ($76.7 million in 2002 for Peter Paul Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents) and more than doubles the previous world record for an artwork of any category ($179.3 million for Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger in May 2015 at Christie’s). It also puts Old Masters back into the limelight after a period when the segment seemed to have lost its appeal to collectors.

New records at Christie’s on 13 November

Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art sale on 13 November 2017 generated a flurry of new auction records including $70 million for Fernand LÉGER (1881-1955)’s Contraste de formes (1913) (well above the $39.2 million it fetched five years ago), $17.75 million for a subtle painting titled Misia et Vallotton (1899) by Édouard VUILLARD (1868-1940) (adding nearly $10 million to his previous auction record) and $20.5 million for the Belgian painter René Magritte’s L’empire des lumières (1949).

Two records in an hour…

On 14 November 2017, Sotheby’s New York offered a major work by Marc CHAGALL (1887-1985): Les Amoureux had remained in the same private collection for almost 90 years. It fetched a superb new record for the artist at $28.4 million. A few minutes after this impressive result, Sotheby’s generated the artist’s second best-ever auction result when Le grand cirque fetched $16 million. In short, an excellent evening for Marc Chagall’s market, with two new records in less than an hour.

A total of $785.9 million for the evening…

Against a pre-sale low estimate of $410 million, Christie’s Contemporary Art sale on 15 November 2017 brought in a grand total of $785.9 million, one of the best sales totals in auction history, thanks mainly to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Buyers from 34 different countries registered to participate in the sale.

$26 million for Zao Wou

On 25 November, Christie’s Hong Kong generated a new record for a Chinese oil painting when ZAO Wou-Ki (1921-2013)’s 01/29/64 fetched $26 million, beating the previous record for a Chinese artwork on canvas held by Zeng Fanzhi.

622 lots at the last Petiet sale

On 25 and 26 November, Ader-Nordmann organized the 50th and last Petiet sale at the Opera Comique in Paris. The sale was organised in a traditional manner, i.e. without internet, to dramatize one of the most anticipated events of the fall period. The high point of this last Petiet sale was Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973)’s full-set Vollard Suite which sold for €1.9 million. Among the 622 lots offered, prints by Gauguin, Degas, Matisse and Daumier doubled or tripled their deliberately low and attractive estimates, whereas other pieces sold within their very affordable estimated price ranges.

A Qi Baishi work sells above $100 million…

QI Baishi (1864-1957) (1864-1957) became the first Chinese artist to generate an auction result above $100 million. The set of twelve landscaped screens, completed in 1925 at the height of the artist’s maturity fetched $140.9 million. The determination of the buyer to acquire this set of twelve drawings has allowed a rebalancing between the Western and Asian art markets because so far only Western artists had broken through the 9-digit dollar threshold at auction. Qi Baishi’s art has now joined the select circle of seven artists to have exceeded $110 million at auction, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Edvard Munch and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

3 Chinese in the Top 10

In 2017 three Chinese painters are in the top 10 artists ranked by annual auction turnover. Twenty years ago there were none.