New York's two-week spring auction blitz got off to a lackluster start last night at Sotheby's, as a quarter of the artworks on offer during the Impressionist and Modern art sale failed to find buyers. The sale pulled in $170.5 million, towards the low end of a $159 million to $230 million pre-sale estimate. "This was not a memorable group of artworks," said advisor Linda Silverman. "But given the lack of quality, they did O.K."
Surrealist works sold well, but buyers generally rejected aggressive estimates, even for artists like Picasso and Gauguin.
The evening's prize was a 1934 Picasso, Femmes Lisant (Deux Personages),
which sold for $21.4 million to an unidentified Asian man on a cell phone, who bid from an aisle seat in the middle of the auction floor. The painting had been optimistically tagged at $25 million to $35 million. While the sale was timed to a popular show at Gagosian in New York, this painting does not rank among the finest of Marie-Thérèse Walter, the artist's celebrated muse and mistress. A profusion of interlocking shapes and colors depict Walter and her sister glancing at a book, but the painting lacks the eroticism and force of related works. Read More
Inside Venice's hallowed 17th-
century Baroque church, Santa Maria della Salute, tourists snapped photos of Titian paintings yesterday afternoon. Just outside, in the hot sun, French billionaire François Pinault was leaving the neighboring Punta della Dogana, a former customs house and one of two Venetian showcases for his sprawling contemporary art collection. Accompanied by fellow French billionaire collector Nicholas Berggruen, the pair headed for the canal and a motorboat. Read More