Miro Sets Auction Record in London While a Dix Goes Begging


A 1927 painting by Joan Miró, Peinture (Étoile Bleue), sold for $37 million to an unnamed telephone bidder at Sotheby’s London yesterday evening, setting an auction record for that artist in an evening that also held some disappointments.

The price for the Miró marks more than a doubling in value over five years: it brought $16.7 million, also from an anonymous buyer, when it was sold to last night’s seller at auction in 2007, at Drouot in Paris. It substantially exceeds the previous record for the artist, set just four months ago at Christie’s in London, when the 1925 canvas Painting-Poem sold for $27 million.

Peinture (Étoile Bleue) is one of the series of “dream paintings” that the Spaniard began in 1925. Against a rich blue background float a handful of individual motifs, including a darker blue star and a truncated heart in red, loosely joined by lines in black. In a 1925 work now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, he had identified the same blue as “the color of my dreams.”

Buyers were not equally eager to snap up all the works on offer, however.

Otto Dix’s 1931 panel painting Seated nude with blond hair, which carried an estimate of $6 to $9 million, attracted not a single bid, according to Bloomberg. Selling below their estimates, meanwhile, were a 1972 Picasso canvas, Homme assis, which fetched $9.7 million, and Pierre Bonnard’s Nu Debout (1930) from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III, which was sold for $7 million.

The evening sale overall brought $117.8 million. This evening Christie’s will offer Impressionist and modern works, including examples by Gaugin, Picasso and Renoir.