Withdrawn: Giacometti, “Buste de Diego,” 1957, as seen last Thursday at Christie’s presale exhibition (but not seen in today’s sale)
Photos by Lee Rosenbaum
The last-minute withdrawal from Christie’s Impressionist/modern sale tonight of what was to have been one of its star works, Giacometti‘s “Buste de Diego,” left a very thin sale even thinner. “Diego,” tied for the third-highest estimate in the catalogue, had been expected to bring $8-12 million.
Christie’s in recent years has packed its major sales with too many works. This time, there were only 31, compared to last fall’s 82-lot massacre that ended with a mere 55% sold by dollar value, 62% sold by lot.
This time, Christie’s hit its marks, such as they were: The no-fireworks sale was a healthy 90% sold by lot, 96% sold by dollar. The sale totaled $117.09 million, including the buyer’s premium. The hammer total was $102.72 million, against a presale estimate of $90.5-130.2 million. You can view the results for individual lots here.
At the podium instead of the always entertaining Christopher Burge was Jussi Pylkkänen, president of Christie’s Europe. He several times telegraphed what the secret reserve price was (the price below which the lot won’t sell). This may have jinxed the much smaller Giacometti that was still in the sale, which stalled at $550,000, at which point Jussi said, “I can sell it at six.” (The room fell silent and the work went unsold—one of only three lots left stranded.)
Tied for top lot of the night with hammer prices of $17 million apiece ($19.12 million with buyer’s premium) were the cover lot, an easy-on-the-eyes Matisse floral, which trounced its presale estimate of $8-12 million, and this Cézanne watercolor study, previously presumed lost, which recently resurfaced in the private collection of the late Texas physician Heinz Eichenwald:
We more on to a much more robust-looking Impresionist/modern sale tomorrow evening—Sotheby’s 76-lot marathon, with a certain star lot that proved to be a consignor magnet. The ranking may reverse, however, at the big contemporary sales next week, where the to-die-for Rothko and Pollock from the Pincus Collection are headline news.
What’s more, I’m told the ebullient Burge will be back at the podium.