Sotheby’s net auction sales increased 24% to $2.7 billion on strong global sales during the period – particularly in Hong Kong and London – which led to an 18% increase in auction commission revenues to $403.8 million as compared to the prior year.
“Sotheby’s is seeing success across categories and around the world,” said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ruprecht. “The number of buyers at all levels, the amount of property we were entrusted to sell, and the prices we achieved are all up significantly this year. We sold 487 lots at over $1 million, more than any other art market participant. We are demonstrating that the art market is robust and we’re serving new and existing clients who trust Sotheby’s to deliver superior expertise and market knowledge and attractive results.
London’s June Impressionist and Modern Art sales brought $247.3 million, near the high end of the pre- sale estimate and with a number of exceptional prices. The highlight of the sale was Claude Monet’s Nymphéas which brought $54.1 million and the second highest price for the artist at auction. Piet Mondrian’s quintessential masterpiece, Composition with Red, Blue and Grey, which appeared at auction for the first time in our sale brought $25.9 million. The evening sale was 91.3% sold by lot and two-thirds of works sold for above their high estimate.
The following week, our London Contemporary Art sales realized $184.6 million, near the high end of the pre-sale estimate as well. Works by top British artists achieved record prices, with Bacon and Doig highlighting the results. Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer brought the highest price of the Evening sale with $45.4 million, a record for a small-scale triptych by the artist and surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $34 million by a wide margin. Also, a new auction record was established for Peter Doig when his Country-rock (wing mirror) sold for $14.4 million. 88% of the sold lots of the Evening sale achieved prices at or above their pre-sale estimates.
Closing out the London summer sales season were the July Old Master and British Paintings sales series which totaled a record $127.4 million for the week, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $73/108 million by a wide margin. The top lot of the series was George Stubbs’ Tygers at Play which brought $13.2 million, above the pre-sale high estimate of $10 million. 97% of the works sold achieved prices within or above the pre-sale high estimate and 19 auction records were attained during the week including those for a drawing by Botticelli and works by Giovanni da Rimini and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
In the first half of 2014, adjusted expenses* increased 4% to $301.8 million, due to higher salaries and related costs, consistent with prior guidance and the increased earnings for the period. These factors were partially offset by lower marketing and general and administrative expenses, reflecting management’s ongoing efforts to reduce costs in those areas. In the first half of 2014, total expenses increased 22% due to the cost of Principal revenues attributable to a series of profitable transactions completed in the period ($32.0 million) and special charges ($24.3 million).
1. Claude Monet, Nymphéas, 1906 Monet’s waterlily paintings are among the most revered and celebrated works of the Impressionist movement. Asian bidding helped drive the price for this 1906 work to £31.7m – the highest price for an Impressionist Painting sold anywhere in the world this year. (Top photo)
Sotheby’s London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, 23rd June 2014 £26.7m ($45.4m)
2. Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer, 1964 A rare and intimate triptych of the artist’s greatest love. Asian bidding helped drive the price to £26.7m – the highest price for any work of Contemporary art sold in London this season.
Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 30th June 2014 £19.7m ($32.1m)
3. Camille Pissarro, Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinée du printemps, 1897 Camille Pissarro’s series paintings of Paris are among the supreme achievements of Impressionism. This exceptional, museum‐quality masterwork, which was restituted in 2000 to Max Silberberg’s family, was brought to auction for the first time ever ‐ achieving a new record for the artist at auction.
Sotheby’s London Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale, 5th February 2014 £17.4m ($28.7m)
4. Gerhard Richter, Wand (Wall), 1994 The painting, never before seen at auction, was treasured by Richter and kept in his personal collection for over 15 years, singling it out as a keynote work for many important museum exhibitions. This is the third highest price for any painting by the artist, and the second highest price for one of his abstract works.
Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 12th February 2014 £16.9m ($27.5m)
5. Vincent van Gogh, L’homme est en mer, 1889
Soared to double the high estimate to achieve the highest price for a painting by the artist sold at auction in London in 25 years.
Sotheby’s London Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale, 5th February 2014 £15.2m ($25.9m)
6. Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue and Grey, 1927 Quintessential masterpiece by the master of minimalism. Made £15.2m ‐ second highest price ever achieved for a work by the artist.
Sotheby’s London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, 23rd June 2014 £12.2m ($20m)
7. Cy Twombly, Untitled (Rome), 1964
Breathtaking painting bringing together all the drama, scale, colour, confluence of line and form and emotional urgency of Twombly’s prodigious oeuvre.
Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 12th February 2014£10.4m ($16.9m)
8. Pablo Picasso, Composition (Composition au Minotaure), 1936 From the legendary private collection of Jan Krugier, featuring the recurring figure in Picasso’s oeuvre.
Sotheby’s London Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale, 5th February 2014 £9.4m ($16.1m)
9. A Marble Statue of Aphrodite, Roman Imperial, circa early 1st Century A.D. Asian bidding helped drive price to £9.4m, the highest price ever achieved for a classical antiquity sold at auction in Europe.
Sotheby’s London Treasures, 9th July 2014 £8.5m ($14.6m)
10. Claude Monet, La Seine à Argenteuil, 1875. One of four major Impressionist paintings from the collection of Ralph C. Wilson Jr, the father of American football.