Alberto Giacometti: Chariot

Alberto Giacometti: Chariot
Sold for $101 million / £63.1 million / €80,4 million

Barnett Newman: Black Fire I   Edouard Manet: Le Printemps

Left - Barnett Newman: Black Fire I (1961)
Sold for $84.2 million / £49.7 million / €61,4 million
World auction record for the artist

Right - Edouard Manet: Le Printemps, 1881
Sold for $65.1 million / £41 million / €52,1 million
World auction record for the artist

The Meiyintang Chenghua Chicken Cup

The Meiyintang Chenghua “Chicken Cup”
China, Chenghua reign (1465–87)
Sold for $36.1 million / £23.1 million / €29,5 million
World auction record for a Chinese porcelain

Thangka of Raktayamari, the Red Conqueror of Death   Inspector of the Scribes: Sekhemka

Left - Thangka of Raktayamari, the Red Conqueror of Death
Yongle Period, Ming Dynasty (1402-1424)
Pre-sale estimate: $10,3 million
Sold for $45 million / £28.8 million / €36,7 million
World auction record for a Tibetan work of art

Right - Inspector of the Scribes: Sekhemka
Egyptian, Old Kingdom, Late Dynasty 5, circa 2400 – 2300 B.C.
Pre-sale estimate: £4 – 6 million
Sold for £15.8 million /$27 million /€19,8 million
World auction record for an Egyptian antiquity

Georgia O’Keeffe - Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1

Georgia O’Keeffe: Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1
Sold for $44.4 million / £28.4 million / €35,8 million
Pre-sale estimate: $10 - 15 million
Auction record for the artist
Auction record for any female artist

The Rothschild Prayerbook

The Rothschild Prayerbook
Ghent or Bruges, c.1505-1510
Sold for $13.6 million / £8.7 million / €11,1 million

The 'Macdonald' Viola by Antonio Stradivari   Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Pandora

Left - The 'Macdonald' Viola by Antonio Stradivari
Offered via sealed bid, estimated at $45 million
Unsold at Sotheby's / Ingles & Hayday

Right - Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Pandora
Painted in 1871
Pre-sale estimate of £5-7 million
Unsold at Sotheby's London


ART AUCTIONS REVIEW - YEAR 2014



Art auctions 2014 Review: from the $100 million Giacometti to a record-breaker Chinese porcelain, we present our personal review of the 2014 Art Auctions season, its superstars, successes, bargains and disappointments.

by G. Fernández - theartwolf.com

THE SUPERSTARS OF THE YEAR

Alberto Giacometti: Chariot
Created in 1950
Sold for $101 million / £63.1 million / €80,4 million at Sotheby's New York, November 2014
Alberto Giacometti’s legendary "Chariot" is the second sculpture in auction history to cross the $100 million mark. The record was set at Sotheby’s London in February 2010 by the artist’s 'L'homme qui marche I', which sold for $104.3 million. Sotheby's expected that this work could set a new auction record for any sculpture, so the result was in some sense a bit disappointing. However, Sotheby's auction was very successful, with Amedeo Modigliani’s totemic "Tête" selling for $70,7 million and Vincent van Gogh's "Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies" fetching $61.8 million.

Barnett Newman: Black Fire I
Painted in 1961
Sold for $84.2 million / £49.7 million / €61,4 million at Christie's New York, May 2014
This painting was one of the stars of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction, which achieved a combined total of $879,6 million -the highest total for a single auction in art market history. Some people described this work as "dull". Christie's called it "a sublime Abstract Expressionist masterpiece that perfectly captures the artist’s reductive and uncompromising aesthetic". Anyway, the price was an auction record for the artist.

Edouard Manet: Le Printemps
Painted in 1881
Sold for $65.1 million / £41 million / €52,1 million at Christie's New York, November 2014
“Spring" was the last of Manet’s Salon paintings still in private hands, exhibited in the 1882 Paris Salon along with Manet’s masterwork "Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère". The work, which carried an estimate of $25-35 million, was acquired by the Getty Museum, whose director said that it would be "one of the top five paintings in its collection".

The Meiyintang Chenghua Chicken Cup
China, Chenghua reign (1465–87)
Sold for $36.1 million / £23.1 million / €29,5 million at Sotheby's Hong Kong, April 2014
This small piece of porcelain was sold for HK$281.24 million, setting a new record for a piece of Chinese porcelain. First created in the Chenghua reign (1465 – 87), “Chicken cups” have been praised, desired and reproduced by Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644- 1911) emperors and other discerning literati collectors.

The Master of Sikasso: The Senufo Female Statue (Deble)
Ivory Coast or Burkina Faso, late 19th-early 20th century
Sold for $12 million / £7,7 million / €9,9 million at Sotheby's New York, November 2014
This sensational Senufo sculpture, which has been exhibited at the MoMA and the Museum of Primitive Art, set a new world auction record for any African sculpture.


THE SUCCESSES

Buddhist Thangka depicting Raktayamari, the Red Conqueror of Death
Yongle Period, Ming Dynasty (1402-1424)
Sold for $45 million / £28.8 million / €36,7 million at Christie's Hong Kong, November 2014
Pre-sale estimate of $10,3 million
Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian -who also bought the Meiyintang Chenghua Chicken Cup (see above)- set a new world auction record for a Tibetan tapestry, paying HK$348.4 million for this spectacular Thangka. Interestingly, this work had been sold for just HK$31 million 12 years ago, and for less than HK$8 million 20 years ago. That means that the work has multiplied its value by 44 in 20 years. Not a bad investment, is it?

Georgia O’Keeffe: Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1
Painted in 1932
Sold for $44.4 million / £28.4 million / €35,8 million at Sotheby's New York, November 2014
Pre-sale estimate of $10 – 15 million
This painting -one of the best examples of O’Keeffe’s celebrated flower paintings- was sold by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sold to benefit its Acquisitions Fund. The price achieved represents more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist, and more than seven times the previous auction record for O’Keeffe

Inspector of the Scribes: Sekhemka
Egyptian, Old Kingdom, Late Dynasty 5, c.2400 – 2300 B.C.
Sold for £15.8 million /$27 million /€19,8 million at Christie's London, July 2014
Pre-sale estimate of £4 – 6 million
This spectacular statue belonged to the Northampton Borough Council. The sale -which marked a world auction record for an Egyptian antiquity- was highly controversial, with the "Save Sekhemka Action Group" describing the auction as a "day of shame for Northampton".

Kay Sage: Le Passage
Painted in 1956
Sold for $6.7 million / £4.3 million / €5,5 million at Sotheby's London, February 2014
Pre-sale estimate of £70,000 - 90,000
Sotheby’s Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Sale in London on 5 February 2014 was dominated by Camille Pissarro's "Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps" (sold for £19,7 million) and Vincent van Gogh's "L’Homme est en mer" (sold for £16,9 million). Sage's "Le Passage" carried the lowest pre-sale estimate of the auction, with a very modest £70,000-90,000. However, it soared to an impressive £4,338,500 -nearly 50 times its pre-sale estimate!.

Archaistic White and Grey Jade 'Jing Ning Zhai' Seal
China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period
Sold for $469,421 / £300,424 million / €384,075 at Sotheby's Hong Kong, May 2014
Pre-sale estimate of $12,896 - 19,344
Asian auctions often include items that smash their pre-sale estimate. On of the most spectacular examples was this tiny seal, sold for HK$3.64 million against a pre-sale estimate of just HK$ 100,000-150,000.


THE BARGAINS

The Rothschild Prayerbook
Ghent or Bruges, c.1505-1510
Sold for $13.6 million / £8.7 million / €11,1 million at Christie's New York, January 2014
Featuring 252 richly illuminated leaves -including miniatures by Simon Bening and Gerard David- the Rothschild Prayerbook is, without a doubt, one of the most important masterpieces of Renaissance Art still in private hands. As simple as that. The highlight of Christie's Renaissance paintings auction on January 29, 2014, it was sold to an Australian businessman for $13,6 million -almost exactly the same price it achieved when it was sold in 1999. Considering how the art market has evolved in the last 15 years, a supreme masterwork like this could easily have doubled that sum.

Frederic Edwin Church: South American Landscape (Study for 'Chimborazo')
Painted in 1856-57
Unsold at Sotheby's New York, May 2014
Pre-sale estimate of $300,000-500,000
Last year, our review of the 2013 auction season included another great study by Church (a final study for 'The Icebergs') in its "bargains" section. "South American Landscape" is not as spectacular, but it is still a very interesting and desirable painting.


THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

The 'Macdonald' Viola by Antonio Stradivari
Created in 1719
Offered via sealed bid, estimated at $45 million
Unsold at Sotheby's / Ingles & Hayday, spring 2014
Described by Sotheby's as "the greatest viola in existence", the 'Macdonald' was expected to sell for more than $45 million —three times the auction record for a musical instrument. The estimate proved to be too ambitious, and the viola failed to attract a buyer.

Fernand Léger: Les constructeurs avec arbre
Painted in 1950
Pre-sale estimate of $16-22 million
Unsold at Christie's New York, November 2014
Previously owned by casino mogul and art collector Steve Wynn, the iconic Léger was one of the two stars of Christie's auction of Impressionist and Modern Art (the other, of course, was Manet's "Le Printemps"). However, not a single bidder showed interest in the painting.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Pandora
Painted in 1871
Pre-sale estimate of £5-7 million
Unsold at Sotheby's London, May 2014
"Pandora" -depicting Jane Morris, the wife of poet William Morris- was one of the most important works by Rossetti to appear at auction in the last decades. Despite the recent successes of works by Rossetti at auction (£3.3 million for a drawing of "Jane as Proserpine", and £4.6 million for "A Christmas Carol"), the work failed to find a buyer.


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