Masters Week total at Sotheby’s New York drops from 2019

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Andrea Mantegna's The Triumph of Alexandria (late 1480s)

$94.3m was the overall total for Masters Week in New York, hosted by Sotheby’s, which ended on January 31st. Four sales comprising 338 paintings, drawings and sculptures went under the hammer – with new records for at least eight artists.

The annual Masters Week comprised both live and online sales, the biggest of which was the Masters Evening Sale – netting a total of $61.1m at 16% over the same sale for 2019.

Giovanni Batista Tiepolo’s The Madonna of the Rosary with Angels (1735) led the evening, achieving a new record for the artist at $17.3m. This is double the artist’s previous auction record.

Also sold at the auction was Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s The Virgin and Christ Child, With Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptiste, for $7.1m. Previously held in different private collections, this is the first time the painting has appeared at auction in 70 years.

Old Masters Drawings was the next biggest sale of the week, amassing $15.1m – a new high for the category of works at Sotheby’s worldwide.

Italian Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna’s second of a series of nine works, titled The Triumph of Alexandria (late 1480s) was the top lot at $11.7m – becoming the most expensive Old Master drawing to sell in the US.      

The 19th Century European Art sale – which totalled $9.5m on the last day of the live auctions – saw Sir Alfred J. Munning’s Mahmoud Being Saddled for the Derby (1936) sell for $3.1m as the top lot. The work came from the collection of arts patron Marylou Whitney.  

Sir Alfred J. Munning’s Mahmoud Being Saddled for the Derby (1936)

And finally, the Old Master Paintings and Sculptures day sale commanded $8.6m, showcasing seven honest replicas by Hieronymus Bosch, Michael Sweerts and Leonardo Da Vinci. The sale included a 17th century Mona Lisa replica and the “only to-scale replica” of Leonardo’s Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness. 

A bronze cast Blessed Ludovica Albertoni (1671) was the top lot at $572,000, while replicas of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness sold for $106,250 and $100,000 each.

Christopher Apostle, head of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings department, New York, said: “[Results] were an indicator of the strength of the Master paintings market across the full range of this field, from early Italian and Northern pictures to Baroque paintings and 17th century Dutch and Flemish pictures.”

Masters Week 2020’s $94.3m total saw a drop on that of last year, which totalled $99.8m.