Modigliani leads $377m sale of Spotty Taubman Collection at Sotheby's

The New York sales at Sotheby’s sold off lots from the estate of former owner A. Alfred Taubman on Wednesday (November 4th), in a move that generated $377 million.
It was not exactly plain sailing, with many of items going at the bottom end of estimates, while some of the larger lots didn’t sell at all.

Mixed bag

Some 69 of the 77 lots found buyers, but 22 of those 69 lots were sold below their lowest estimated value.
That’s not to say it was all doom and gloom for the auctioneer, however, with Frank Stella’s Delaware Crossing, breaking the artist’s auction record thanks to a $12 million from a phone bidder. That number increased to $13.7 million with a buyer’s premium.
However, the biggest hit was the sale of one of Modigliani’s last ever portraits, which came in at a price of $42.8 million, over an on-request high estimate said to be $35 million.
Once the fuss over that piece had died down, the next marquee to be put on offer was Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XXI, which had previously hung in Taubman’s Michigan mansion.
There was plenty of interest in the piece, although bidding stalled at $20 million before edging up to a final price of $22 million, or just $100,000 shy of the low estimate at $24.9 million with the premium.
Eventually, the highlight of the night was brought out; Picasso’s Femme Assise Sue une Chaise, which carried an estimate of $25 million to $35 million.
However, the piece proved to be somewhat disappointing, selling for $5 million below its low estimate.

Market is still strong

The final total of $377 million, was still higher than the low estimate for the sale by a few million, but it will nevertheless cast doubt on whether Sotheby’s can make back its record levels of investment with the rest of the Taubman sales.
David Nash, who headed the international Impressionist and modern division at Sotheby’s during the Taubman era, told Art News: “I think that they perhaps pushed the boat out a little too far, which means you have to have high estimates
“The estimates had to catch up with the guarantee, and perhaps this intimidated a lot of people. There was little opportunity to buy anything, in the sense that the estimates were already so strong.”
“I don’t think this is particularly related to the state of the art market at large,” he added.