November auctions

[14 Nov 2017]

Collectors and art professionals consider the autumn a good period for high-end art sales and this has again been confirmed by the inclusion of some extremely rare masterpieces in sales during November in Paris and in New York. Works by Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol are headlining a number of sales in what is looking like a particularly interesting month for the high-end art market.

Man Ray crosses the million-dollar threshold

Last week in Paris, photography enthusiasts came together in search of new treasures for their collections. The auction companies took advantage of the effervescence of the large-scale Paris Photo fair to organize specialised photography sales. The most anticipated moment of the week (in the photography segment) was the bidding for a legendary photograph by MAN RAYNoire et Blanche (1926) from the Thomas Koerfer collection, offered at Christie’s on 9 November 2017. This iconic image, estimated €1 – 1.5 million ($1.1 – 1.7 million) finally fetched $3.13 million becoming Man Ray’s most expensive photograph at auction.

Boundless Dubai

On 13 November, Sotheby’s organised one of the most eclectic sales of the month in Dubai. Titled Boundless Dubai, the sale contained 106 lots and was carefully designed to appeal to the tastes and expectations of Dubai’s residents. It included works as diverse as a portrait of Salome painted in 1901 by the Lebanese artist Khalil Saleeby and a neon installation by Kader ATTIA (DEMO(N)CRACY) estimated $30,000 – 40,000, and sold $50,000). It also offered a photograph of the Namibian desert by Salgado (estimated $10-15,000, unsold) and a first edition of Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina by Dr. Saleh Soubhy (estimated $3-4,000, and sold $6,000). The bidding may have started a little under $1,000, but a painting by Ali BANISADR (1976) fetched $459,000.

Leonardo da Vinci: top lot of the year…

The most anticipated lot of the year is being offered for sale this week by Christie’s in New York (15 November): Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is carrying an estimate of $100 million which is 21% below the $127.5 million apparently paid by the Russian collector Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2013. However, it may well fetch considerably more.

85 million dollars for two works

On Thursday 16 November 2017, Sotheby’s is holding its much awaited Contemporary Art sale in New York. Of the 74 works on offer, many are estimated over a million dollars. Jean Dubuffet, Louise Bourgeois and Jean-Michel Basquiat are each expected to fetch more than ten million dollars (not for the first time), but the highlights of this very up-market sale are undoubtedly a triptych by Francis BACON representing his muse George Dyer and a large portrait of Mao by Andy WARHOL, which together are expected to generate $85 million.

Two Gauguins for sale

Driven by a sumptuous retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris and a biopic starring Vincent Cassel, the market for Paul GAUGUIN is probably hotter than it has ever been in the past. A good time to sell his works… but hardly any of his works are available anymore. Nevertheless, Sotheby’s has managed to include two interesting works by the French artist in its Impressionist & Modern Art sale on 14 November. The first is a drawing, Breton Eve, 1889, estimated between $800,000 and $1.2 million and the second an oil painting from his Tahitian period Cavalier devant la case, expected to fetch between $4 and 6 million. This latter work was completed in 1902, a few months before his death. The speculative bubble of the 1980s drove up the values of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works sharply, but when the bubble burst, many contracted. However, the prices of Gauguin’s work have never fallen back, and, having survived the most recent financial crisis, they are currently rising again.