Sotheby's £194 million art sale is biggest auction in London history
Sotheby’s has achieved the highest total for an auction ever held in London, with the latest Evening Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art and Surrealist Art realizing £194,753,500 ($238.8m).
The record-breaking total marled an impressive 108% increase on results in 2016, with bidders from 38 countries helping the sale to a sell-through rate of 88.9%.
Headlining the auction was Gustav Klimt’s 1907 masterpiece Bauerngarten, one of the greatest works by the Austrian artist ever to appear at auction.
Appearing at auction for the first time in a generation, the oil painting was one of the few Klimt works from his 'Golden Period' to remain in private hands, and sold for £48 million ($59.3m) – making it the third-most valuable artwork ever auctioned in Europe.
Another leading lot was Pablo Picasso’s Plant de tomates, a still life painted in 1944 during the Nazi occupation of Paris.
Featuring a colourful tomato plant growing against the cold grey window, the image was a symbol of hope and resilience, created in resistance to the German officers who harassed Picasso throughout the war.
Having remained in the same private collection for more than 40 years, the painting soared above its high-estimate to sell for £17 million ($21.1m). The painting was one of eight Picasso works offered throughout the sale, which together achieved a total of £54.7 million ($67.7m).
Further notable results included Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of Baranowski, which sold for £16 million ($19.8m); Paul Gauguin’s Te Arii Vahine – La Femme aux mangos (II) which sold for £8.4 million ($10.4m); and Alfred Sisley's Effet de neige à Louveciennes, which sold for a new world-record price of £7.4 million ($9.1m).
There were also new record prices achieved for works by Oskar Kokoschka and Jean Arp.
"Tonight’s outstanding result is a new benchmark for London sales as much as it is a statement on the momentum of the global art market in 2017," said Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.
"The success of tonight’s sale lies in reading the market to know what buyers are looking for, and Sotheby’s having been entrusted by our clients with extraordinary works. This, combined with the pent up market demand for works of such extraordinary calibre, propelled global buying in our saleroom – particularly from Asia – and it was wonderful to experience on the rostrum."
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