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£121 million highest ever auction in Europe

Published on Friday June 22, 2007

Christie’s achieves highest ever auction total in europe

London – Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art held on 18 June 2007 realised £121,127,200/ $239,952,983 / €178,056,984, a record total for any auction ever held in Europe. The top lot of the sale was Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, 1904 by Claude Monet (1840-1926) which sold for £17,940,000 ($35,539,140 / €26,497,380), the second highest price for the artist at auction. Buyer activity at the auction (by lot) was 22% United Kingdom, 56% rest of Europe, 21% Americas and 1% Asia.

Jussi Pylkkänen, President of Christie’s Europe and auctioneer for the evening (pictured above), and Olivier Camu, International Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s, London said:

“This evening’s sale at Christie’s was a landmark event in the history of the art market, realising the highest total for any auction ever held in Europe. The international art market congregated at Christie’s saleroom in London this evening as an ever increasing international group of collectors fought for the exceptional selection of works. The top work of the sale was bought by a private American collector, with 6 of the other top 10 works were won by private European collectors.

Today’s results reflect the continuing confidence and depth of the art market, with thirty works selling for over £1 million and forty-six works over $1 million. The results underlines Christie’s position as the world’s leading art business as we continue to present the best works of art and to invest in the new markets of Russia, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the traditional markets of Europe and North America. We look forward to tomorrow’s Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sales as well as to Wednesday’s Evening Sale of Post War & Contemporary Art.”

Highlights of this evening’s sale:

Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, 1904 by Claude Monet (1840-1926) sold for £17,940,000

Les arceaux de roses, Giverny, 1913, also by Claude Monet (1840-1926) sold for £8,980,000 ($17,789,380 / €13,263,460). A very rare and beautiful depiction of Monet’s water-lily pond which demonstrates the artist’s virtuosity at using all the colours of his palette, this work shows the artist’s rose bower and its dazzling reflection on a water surface strewn with water-lilies in full bloom.

Mousquetaire et nu assis, 1967, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a large and bold rendition of a female nude seated with a comical musketeer, sold for £6,740,000 ($13,351,940 / €9,954,980).
($35,539,140 / €26,497,380), the second highest price in pounds for the artist at auction and the highest ever price in US dollars. A painting from the artist’s most celebrated series of paintings which depict various views of the Thames, it nearly tripled its pre-sale estimate of £6,000,000-8,000,000 and was sold to a private American collector on the telephone. Painted from his room in the then newly-built, luxurious Savoy Hotel, the work captures Waterloo Bridge with the morning sun glinting on the blue and purple water between the arches.

Le Coq by Joan Miro (1893-1983) realized £6,628,000 ($13,130,068 / €9,789,556), exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £3,500,000-4,500,000 and establishing a record price for the artist at auction.

Picking Apples by Russian artist Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £1,000,000-1,500,000, eventually selling for £4,948,000 ($9,801,988 / €7,308,196), a world record price for the artist at auction and a world record price for a female artist at auction. This work is one of a series of highly important paintings of Russian peasants made by the artist between 1908 and 1911 that proudly announced the awakening of a new indigenous spirit in Russian art and laid the foundations of its avant-garde.

Further highlights of the sale included Constantinople (Corne d’Or) by Paul Signac£4,836,000 ($9,580,116 / €7,142,772) against a pre-sale estimate of £1,500,000-2,500,000, Le sabbat by René Magritte (1898-1967) which sold for £4,500,000 ($8,914,500 / €6,646,500), L'escalier rouge à Cagnes by Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) which realized £3,940,000 ($7,805,140 / €5,819,380), and Un disque dans la ville, 1919 by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) which sold for £3,380,000 ($6,695,780 / €4,992,260).

New auction record prices were set for 7 artists at this evening’s sale: Emile Othon Friesz (lot 7), Natalia Goncharova (lot 19), Jean Metzinger (lot 25), Giorgio Morandi (lot 27), Alberto Magnelli (lot 29), Lasar Segall (lot 47) and Joan Miro (lot 54).

This evening’s auction was the first in a series of 5 sales to be held at Christie’s this week. With a combined pre-sale estimate of between £172 and £241 million, this week is the most important and valuable week of auctions ever held in Europe. The auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper will take place on Tuesday 19 June 2007. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale will take place on Wednesday 20 June and is highlighted by Lucian Freud’s Bruce Bernard, 1992 (estimate: £4,500,000-5,500,000) which is expected to set an unprecedented world auction record for the artist and potentially a new world auction record for any work by a living artist. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale will take place on Thursday 21 June 2007. All auctions will take place at Christie’s King Street salerooms.

Source: Christie's

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