Catcalls and taunts from the 99 percent didn't puncture the 1 percent's enthusiasm to spend last night at Sotheby's. An Impressionist and modern sale totaled a robust $199.8 million, above the $168-million low estimate. Over 80 percent of the 70 lots on offer sold, topped by a verdant Gustav Klimt, which made $40.4 million.
The sale was something of a relief coming on the heels of Christie's disappointing Tuesday results. On that evening, nearly 40 percent of lots flopped in an overstuffed 82-lot sale tallying just $140.1 million. Sotheby's chief auctioneer didn't hesitate to point out the difference between the two sales. "If ever there was a turnaround, I think it was tonight," said Tobias Meyer during a post-auction press conference.
A rocky sale last night at Christie's tallied just $140.8 million, well below the projected $300-million high estimate. Collectors rejected bullish estimates as nearly 40 percent of lots failed to sell. Amid global economic jitters, the Impressionist and Modern art auction was the first of a series of sales in New York taking place this week and next. Major works by Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Giacometti tanked.
"The market seems more sensitive than we had thought," said Thomas Seydoux, international head of the Impressionist and modern art department, during a post-sale press conference. Of 82 lots on offer, just 51 sold.
Mixed Media. Courtesy Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, and the artist.
Extraction, the most recent series of mixed media collages