Sotheby’s strong start to 2015 season

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Sotheby’s has had a strong start opening to the 2015 season setting records in both Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist and Contemporary art sales in London. Sotheby’s New York also saw a successful sale during Masters Week.

The New York Old Masters sale which took place at the end of January achieved the highest old masters total at any auction house so far this season. One of highlights of the sale was John Constable’s ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’, which had an estimate of between $2-3 million, selling for $5.2 million to an anonymous bidder.

The Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist evening sale saw the highest total for any auction ever held in London, in any category, with five individual auction records set including artists such as Picasso, Seurat and Kandinsky. With five works sold Monet dominated the sale including the highest selling item ‘Le Grand Canal’. Together his works sold for a total of £55 million.

The sale saw all nine of the sculptures on offer sold, including Picasso’s ‘Tete (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)’. Together the evening and day sales achieved over 56% of lots exceeding their high estimates.

Sotheby’s recent contemporary success was led by the sale of Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild at the Contemporary evening sale, which sold for £30.4 million, well over its estimate of £14-20 million. The colourful painting set a new record at Sotheby’s for the highest price for a work by any living European artist. All together there were nine of Richter’s works in the Evening and Day sales, together they totalled £37.1 million.

The contemporary sale also achieved the record of highest contemporary total at any auction house this season. Both the evening and day sales totalled £140.4 million Sotheby’s highest ever total for sales of contemporary art in Europe.

Cy Twombly also set a new record, for a single work on paper, for ’Rome’ which sold for £3.9 million to anonymous bidder. Cheyenne Westphal the co-worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s commented on the sale “We owe the outstanding results that we’ve achieved across both sales to our valued, long-standing relationships with collectors and the supreme quality and freshness of the work we sourced.”

“We owe the outstanding results that we’ve achieved across both sales to our valued, long-standing relationships with collectors and the supreme quality and freshness of the work we sourced.”

Sotheby’s board of Directors announced last week that they would not be offering a return to its shareholders, until they find current CEO Bill Ruprecht’s replacement.