Art & Artists

Sotheby's Modern Evening Sale Achieves $198.1 Million in New York

May 20, 2024 at 11:13
DALL·E 2024-05-20 13.12.38 - A bustling auction scene at a prestigious art sale in New York. The auctioneer stands at the podium, animatedly conducting the sale. Behind him, a lar.webp
Sotheby's recent Modern evening sale on May 15th demonstrated the strength of the art market despite a generally softening environment, achieving a robust $198.1 million.

Sotheby's recent Modern evening sale on May 15th demonstrated the strength of the art market despite a generally softening environment, achieving a robust $198.1 million ($235.1 million with fees). This total fell comfortably within the pre-sale estimate range of $180.2 million to $250.7 million (excluding fees).

Notable Highlights and Financial Guarantees

Out of 50 lots offered, only two went unsold, resulting in a 96% sell-through rate, not counting two withdrawn lots that could have added an estimated $3.5 million to $5.5 million to the final tally. A significant portion of the sale, 32 out of 48 sold lots, was supported by financial guarantees from Sotheby's or third parties, demonstrating strong confidence in the auction's offerings.

One of the evening's standout moments was the setting of a new artist record with Leonora Carrington’s "Les Distractions de Dagobert" (1945), which fetched $24.5 million ($28.5 million with fees), more than doubling its low estimate of $12 million. This sale was a testament to the growing appreciation of Carrington's work.

Early Highlights and Impressionist Successes

The auction kicked off with impressive results for early lots, including Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s 1938 abstract relief and László Moholy-Nagy’s 1942 "CH for R1, Space Modulator," which significantly outperformed expectations. Alexander Calder’s large mobile "Blue Moon" (1962) sold for $12.2 million ($14.4 million with fees), and Mark Rothko’s 1969 untitled abstraction realized $9.5 million ($11.3 million with fees).

In the realm of Impressionism, Claude Monet's "Meules à Giverny" (1893) led the evening with a final bid of $30 million ($34.8 million with fees), following a fierce bidding war. Other notable Impressionist sales included Monet’s "Antibes vue de la Salis" (1888) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s "Portrait of d’Edmond Maître" (1871).

Surrealism's Star Turn

Surrealist works, particularly by women artists, shone brightly. Alongside Carrington’s record-breaking piece, Remedios Varo’s "Esquiador (Viajero)" (1960) and Leonor Fini’s "Le Train" (1975) surpassed their high estimates, demonstrating the rising demand for works by female Surrealists. René Magritte’s three works also performed well, with "Le Banquet" (circa 1955-57) selling for $15.5 million ($18.1 million with fees).

Euro-American Classics and Other Highlights

Among Picasso's offerings, "Buste d’homme" (1969) achieved $10.8 million ($12.7 million with fees), while his earlier work "Courses de taureaux" (1901) sold for $3.1 million ($3.5 million with fees). American artist Andrew Wyeth’s "Rum Runner (To the Westward)" (1944/1974) fetched $2.8 million ($3.4 million with fees).

Hans Hofmann’s "Lava" (1960) met its low estimate of $3 million ($3.7 million with fees), albeit significantly below its previous auction price.

Overall, Sotheby's Modern evening sale showcased a broad array of works that appealed to both traditional and emerging collectors, proving the resilience and dynamism of the art market. Attention now turns to Christie’s 20th-century art evening sale, where the art world eagerly anticipates whether similar success will be achieved.