I Predicted a Great sale and High Prices
It was very close to that. There were very good pieces to sell but not that great piece to lift the sale well into the stratosphere of exceptional auctions that achieve half a billion dollars. Under the circumstances, the result of 300 million dollars was very good.
Sothebys promoted the sale well and it was obvious from the packed room and the two dozen telephone assistants on the side of the auctioneer and president of Sothebys Henry Windham. Standing tall, dominating the background he impresses with his hide, his conduct of the sale and his humor.
Sale on and usually the first few lots set the pace and tone of a sale. Good results nearly all lots until the first highlight of the sale;
Manet; At 15 million, I felt it was pitched too high but how many Manets are out there for the hungry collectors loaded with billions? Very few and so, in spite of its size etc it finds a buyer at fifteen million and there is a sigh of relief all over the room and I am sure around the art market world.
The room is buzzing, people in and out and one can feel the contagious air of art investment and the adrenaline flowing within the crowded huge room. Shortly comes the Gauguin and Rodin. They both sell well and give the sale a good boost at the right time.
The auction goes quiet when Malevich comes up for sale. Absolute silence. The Russian art has gone quiet but for how long? Malevich’s work is pioneer, it is very scarce and this painting will stand out in any collection. Just one bidder and the auctioneer manages it to extract a ninenteen million bid and sell the masterpiece.
Picasso’s work comes into play in the next few lots and the beautiful picture of figures, I call it two children playing sell for 14.5 million plus commissions. This was a small Picasso but indeed very sweet and very unusual for the master.
The Picasso was followed after a few lots by the beautiful Klimpt. Nobody expected the events that followed but the initial bidding was good and then: Two bidders. One in the room and one on the phone. Who was to blink first and hundred by hundred the price was getting bigger and bigger. Windham, the auctioneer tried to hurry the sale but..
The phone bidder was determined, was playing the bidding at auction game really well and the Klimpt climbed to 20 million and still there was fire in the belly of both bidders. All along the bidding the feeling I had was that the bidder in the room was the one to buy the masterwork, which at 22 million plus commissions, he secured. Great painting and Klimpt is always a sure auction firework. Clapping and noise after the hammer came down. Well done Mr Windham!
The painting that intrigued me the most in the sale was the Max Liebermann work, which was a stolen NAZI trove, retrieved only recently and selling for the heirs of the original legal owners. A very good Liebermann I must say and with such history an exciting piece. The bidding started at only 200,000 but the interest was from many collectors/investors and it soon climbed to a million, where I felt the painting ought ot have been estimated intially. However, I was wrong there myself, as the bidding continued to push upwards for the painting to sell at 1.55 million plus commissions. It may a record for Liebermann but I am not sure if that is the case.
I was so happy for the owners, I was so relieved that theft cannot be hidden even after seventy years. Two Riders Going Left was indeed one of those emotional sales when every member of the audience wanted it to do very well.
The sale came to a close with a jubilant auctioneer rushing for dinner as he jokingly mentioned on several occasions when selling the Portrait of Klimt!!
How about a small piece of ours?
Antonis Andreadis, Old Man