N.Y. auction of private art collection stumbles, a Picasso is casualty

Tue Nov 5, 2013 3:33am EST
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The fall art auctions got off to a shaky start on Monday with Christie's' sale of a private collection which fell far short of expectations, including the failure to sell of a much-anticipated Picasso sculpture.

The sculpture, "Tete," the model for a prominent outdoor steel artwork in Chicago's Daley Plaza, had been the expected highlight, and with an estimate of $25 million to $35 million was poised to break the artist's record for a sculpture.

But the work failed to reach its reserve - the secret minimum price sellers agree to accept before an auction - when no bids beyond $19 million were forthcoming.

One after another, other top works by artists ranging from Giacometti to Kandinsky and Miro and bearing estimates around $10 million to as high as $25 million, failed to sell.

The sale of 62 works from the collection of art dealer Jan Krugier took in $92.5 million including commission, Christie's said, against a $158 million to $225 million pre-sale estimate.

Among the sale's few high points was Picasso's portrait of two of his children, "Claude et Paloma," a 1950 oil that soared to $28,165,000, or more than twice the estimate of $9 million to $12 million, to achieve the evening's top price.

Several lower-priced works also saw competitive bidding, selling for many times their estimates.

Christie's officials expressed their disappointment.   Continued...