Sotheby’s Paris Contemporary Art Evening Sale Totals £18.4m

Sotheby’s Paris Contemporary Art sale which took place on 5th June has broken the record for the Highest Contemporary Art Evening Sale Total of the 2013 Paris Summer Auction Season. The Highest Priced Contemporary Work of Art  was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Crown Hotel which sold  for €5.7/ $7.4m / £4.8m

In a packed sale room, Sotheby’s sale of Contemporary Art achieved €21,623,600 / $28,222,906 / £18,403,043 (pre-sale estimate €15.3 – 21.6 Million/ $20–28.2 / £13-18.3), which represents the second-highest total for a sale in this category at Sotheby’s Paris. The top lot of the sale, and a record price in France for the artist was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s monumental Crown Hotel, (Mona Lisa Black Background) from The Collection of the Comtesse Viviane de Witt, which sold for €5,697,500 / $7,436,320 / £4,848,931 (est. €5-7m/$6.6-9.2m). Mounted on a criss- cross stretcher, it is a classic work by the artist and cites two icons of western art – Mona Lisa and Olympia. Three further artist records in France were achieved for works by Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Othoniel and Zao Wou-Ki, and the highlight of the works featured in the sale from the Collection of Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt was Nicolas de Staël’s monumental Flowers on a Salmon-Pink Table (1953), which sold for €1,441,500 / $1,881,431/ £1,226,807 (est. €800,000-1,200,000 /$1,050,000-1,570,000. The sale, which closed to a round of applause, was 96.6% sold by lot and 99.8% sold by value, with five works selling for over €1million and a high average lot value of €772,271/ $1,007,960/ £657,251.

Stefano Moreni, Head of Sotheby’s Paris Contemporary Art Department, comments, ‘We are extremely pleased with the strong result of tonight’s sale, which saw the international market responding enthusiastically to rare works from renowned collections. We succeeded in achieving the highest total for a Contemporary Art Evening sale this summer auction season in Paris. This is testament to our strength in sourcing and selling high-calibre works by major global artists, responding precisely to the desires of our clients, with a particular focus on internationally recognised French artists.”

Further to the Basquiat, an exceptional work from The Collection of Comtesse Viviane de Witte by Willem de Kooning, Five Women (1952), fetched €901.500/ $1,176,629/ £767,233 (est. €400,000-600,000/ $515,000-770,000). The large-scale drawing exemplifies the artist’s reputation as the ‘greatest draughtsman of the 20th century’. Among the four works by Alexander Calder from the Collection was his monochrome, airy yet dynamic, nine-part work titled Nine Snowflakes, which sold for €721,500 /$941,695/ £614,042 (est. €600,000-800,000/ $770,000-1,030,000), in addition to a work with a more typically vibrant colour scheme titled Standing mobile, Low Three Feathers, which fetched €625,500/ $816,396/ £532,340 (est. €350,000-450,000/ $448,000-580,000). An important, large-format work by Anselm Kiefer titled Johannisnacht or Midsummer Night (1987-91) – a title that pays tribute to the cycle of the seasons – fetched €541,500/ $706,760/ £460,851 (est. €250,000-350,000/ $329,000-460,000). The work is executed in Kiefer’s favoured natural materials of lead, earth and foliage.

THE COLLECTION OF ALEX & ELISABETH LEWYT : Nicolas de Staël’s magnificent and monumental Flowers on a Salmon-Pink Table (1953) sold for €1,441,500/ $1,881,431/ £1,226,807 (est. €800,000-1,200,000 /$1,050,000- 1,570,000s. One of two works by the artist from The Collection of Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt, it is a supreme example of De Staël’s pioneering approach to figurative reality and represents the height of the artist’s grace and genius.

Eminent American art patrons, Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt assembled one of the most famous collections of late 19th/ early 20th century European art. Tonight’s sale of works from The Collection of Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt follows Sotheby’s New York sales of selected works from the Collection which brought a total of $104.2 m / £67.1 million/ €79.4 million). Befitting Mr and Mrs Lewyt’s deep devotion to philanthropy, proceeds from the sale of their collection will benefit a charitable foundation to be established in their name. The foundation will support the causes that they both were passionate about, especially those concerned with animal welfare. Further works will be offered tomorrow in Sotheby’s Paris Contemporary Art Day Sale.

FURTHER SALE HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED: Jean Dubuffet’s Landscape the Colour of Cooked Meat (1949) fetched €985,500/ $2,100,703/ $1,369,786 (est. €600,000-700,000/ $787,000-919,000). Painted just after the artist’s return from an eye-opening trip to Algeria, the dense paintwork, iridescent layers of colour and unbridled, graffiti-like outlines all combine to form a landscape teeming with pathways and figures. A further work by Dubuffet, The Rich Fruits of Error (1963) – a masterpiece from the artist’s iconic Hourloupe cycle – sold for €1,609,500/ $2,100,703/ £1,369,786 (est. €1-1.5m/$1.3-2).


Jean-Michel Basquiat’s monumental Crown Hotel (Mona Lisa Black Background) from sold for €5,697,500 / $7,436,320 / £4,848,931 (est. €5-7m/$6.6-9.2m)
Zao Wou-Ki’s late and notably large work 14.07.1971 fetched €2,113,500 / $ (est. €700,000-1,000,000/ $919,000-1,312,000).
Willem de Kooning’s Five Women (1952) sold for € / $ (est. €400,000-600,000/ $525,000-787,000)
Jean-Michel Othoniel’s Sans Titre (collier multicolore) of 2007 achieved the sum of €97,500

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