Christie's NY has its best Impressionist, modern sale since 2010

Tue May 6, 2014 11:32pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The spring art auctions got off to a solid start on Tuesday as Christie's sold $286 million worth of Impressionist and modern art, its best New York result in the category in four years.

Led by Monet's "Nymphéas," one of the artist's seminal water lilies paintings which sold for $27 million, the auction saw 89 percent of the 53 works on offer finding buyers and beat its low estimate total of about $245 million.

While works at all levels sold well, bidding was measured and the salesroom atmosphere somewhat muted, with most of the top lots selling for below the pre-sale estimates.

Like the Monet, Picasso's "Portrait de femme (Dora Maar)," the evening's second-highest priced work, fell short of expectations, fetching $22,565,000 including commission.

Christie's had estimated both works to sell for $25 million to $35 million. Estimates do not include commission of just over 12 percent.

A noteworthy exception was Modigliani's "Jeune homme roux assis," which fetched $17,637,000 after determined bidding drove the portrait to half again the $8 million to $12 million estimate.

Christie's officials said the price illustrated that attractive, or conservative, estimates can often be expected to drive a bidding war.

"Tonight was clearly a testament to the incredible breadth in our marketplace," said Brooke Lampley, head of Impressionist and modern art at Christie's.   Continued...

The artwork titled "Les deux soeurs" by artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir is seen during a Christie's auction in New York May 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Adam Hunger