Cubism Record Set at Auction

LONDON.- Last night's evening sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby’s London totaled £103,280,000 (est. £81.8 – 98.95m).

The auction was led by Pablo Picasso’s Cubist masterpiece Femme assise which sold for £43.3m / $63.6m / €56.4m – setting a new record price for any Cubist work at auction.

The work achieved the highest price for a painting sold in London in over five years, since the sale of Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man I at Sotheby’s London in 2010 for £65m.

The greatest Cubist painting to come to the market in decades, Femme assise of 1909 came to the market having remained in a private collection since 1973 when it was acquired for £340,000.

The sale also saw a record for a portrait by Amedeo Modigliani, as Jeanne Hébuterne (au foulard) of 1919 fetched £38.5m / $56.6m / €50.2m – the second-highest price for a painting sold in London in over five years.

One of the greatest portraits the artist painted of his most loyal muse, and the finest to come to the market in a decade, this work was last sold in 1986 for £1.94m.

Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department, said: “The auction result was a resounding vote of confidence for the international art market. The sale was sourced globally, and sold globally to a broader international spread of buyers than this time last year -- collectors hailing from right across Europe, Asia and South America. Altogether there was very strong bidding across the sale and at every price point, led of course by the highest prices seen in London for over five years. I believe that tonight is a clear indicator that the market is alive and robust.”

Further Notable Prices Included:

• Record established for an impression of Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream, which sold for £1.8m /$2.7m /€2.4m as the price soared above estimate of £800,000 - 1,200,000

• Paul Gauguin’s Nature morte aux pommes exceeded the high estimate of £2.2-2.8m selling for £3.4m / $5m / €4.4m

• Strong price for Peinture murale by Fernand Léger, which sold for £1.4m / $2.1m / €1.9m (est. £1 – 1.5m)

• Alberto Giacometti, Portrait de Diego, appearing on the market for the first time and a work he kept in his possession until his death, reached £1.3m / $2m / €1.7m (est. £500,000 - 700,000)

• Marc Chagall’s Deux têtes à la fenêtre was hotly contested and fetched £593,000 / $872,066 / €772,560 (est. £250,000 - 350,000)

• Wilfredo Lam’s Fruits tropicaux tonight sold for £1.1m / $1.7m / €1.5m (£650,000-850,000)

• Joaquín Torres-Garcia’s Peinture Constructive sold for £989,000/$1.5m /€1.3m (est. £600,000 - 800,000)

Sale Overview:

• Almost two thirds of the works offered had been off the market for over 30 years

• Participation from 29 countries (slightly higher than June 2015 sale)

• Sell-through rate: 88.9%

Two works sold from the collection of WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, a German Public Broadcasting institution)

Max Beckmann’s Möwen im Sturm (Seagulls in the Storm) sold for £821,000 / $1.2m / €1.1m (est. £700,000-1,000,000) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner‘s Alpweg (Bergweg) sold for £845,000 / $1.2m / €1.1m (est. £600,000 – 800,000). A further 33 lots will be offered in today's Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale.

WDR's Director General Tom Buhrow said: “The decision to offer for sale 46 works from the property of WDR was not easy but it was a necessary given our challenging budgetary situation. I am therefore very pleased that the two major works by Max Beckmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner were received with great international interest at Sotheby’s evening sale in London and have each found buyers. Our audience will now benefit from the proceeds of the sales through the diverse, high-calibre broadcast program."