Christie’s Sale Suffers From Sky-High Expectations

Posted filed underArt Market, Auctions, News.


There is a lot of money swishing around the world, as witness the $204.8 million spent on 48 of the 69 Impressionist and Modern works of art that came up for sale at Christie’s on Wednesday evening.

The New York Times: ” Predictably, the very few truly major works on account of their authors’ importance, their size and their aesthetic achievement, sold — at gigantic prices.

Claude Monet’s “Nymphéas” of 1905 topped the list at $43.76 million. Of the 30 or so pictures of water lilies floating on the pond of the Japanese garden that the Impressionist master devised for himself at Giverny near Paris, the picture seen at Christie’s is among the earliest. These are all but unobtainable in the market these days.

The Christie’s “Water Lilies” had never appeared at auction. Its late owner, Ethel Strong Allen, acquired it from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in 1979 and it was being sold for the benefit of Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, as part of a bequest from her estate. This guaranteed to potential buyers that there was no speculation-minded investor in the background hoping to make an outrageous profit at their expense. Not least, the Monet reached the United States as early as 1910. It was then bought by the New York collector Charles Beatty Alexander. This stimulated competition and Christie’s revealed that it was, indeed, an American collector who carried off the prize, with the identity concealed by bidding over the telephone.

The other great prize in the sale was similarly bought over the telephone by an unnamed American private buyer. Constantin Brancusi’s “Une muse,” modeled in plaster in 1912 by the Rumanian-born sculptor of the Paris school, was described by Christie’s, with good reason, as “one of the pivotal compositions of Brancusi’s early maturity.”

Read on at The New York Times.