With a total of $13.04 million (including the buyer’s premium), the auction at Sotheby’s tonight of 31 works from A. Alfred Taubman‘s American art collection (eight of which failed to sell) will be of little help in reducing the formidable $95-million gap between the $420 million that two previous sales from his collection have brought and the $515 million that the auction house has promised to pay the Taubman heirs, regardless of the amount fetched at auction.
The hammer total for tonight’s Taubman sale was $10.85 million, far short of its $15.18-22.74 million presale estimate of hammer total.
The star lot, below, hammered for $5 million, against a presale estimate of $7-10 million. Its final price, with buyer’s premium, was $5.9 million—an auction record for Martin Johnson Heade:
Interestingly, the various-owner American art sale that directly followed Taubman was more robust: $22.06-million hammer, near the $23-million high estimate ($26.6-million total, including buyer’s fees). Some 82.1% of the 56 lots found buyers. compared to 74% of the 31 Taubman lots.
With “Masterworks,” the preeminent sale of the Taubman series, also underperforming, the sale of his old masters on Jan. 27 is Sotheby’s last hope for closing the guarantee gap.
Here’s my Twitter report on tonight’s Taubman sale: