THE WORLD OF AUCTIONS OF 2006: THE BOOK OF RECORDS

The beginning of a year – is the time of traditional stillstand in the auction business. Accomplished work is being evaluated during this period, the accounts are being winded up and new operation fields, new sales and new sensations are being considered. This is the time of serious analytical work by the experts. We just want to remind our readers about the most famous and interesting world sales of 2006.

The passed year in the history of auction houses, undoubtedly, was the year of record sales and the year of operation field expansion. The latter includes involving new customers from the Far East (China in particular) and Russia in the world’s auction process. This trend has already produced formidable results – Russians accounted for 40% of the participants of the «Russian week» auctions held in November in London.
One more last year’s tendency is comprised by the traditional competition between the major world auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s, which looks more like close co-operation. Financial results of Christie’s and Sotheby’s were respectively $4.67bn and $3.662bn. Christie’s showed the record performance in the entire history of the art auction houses. Sotheby’s, though gaining less by a billion dollars, also performed very well.

THE POST-WAR ART: THE BILLIONERS SET AN EXAMPLE TO THE OTHERS

J.Pollock. No.5. Oil on canvas.  1948. Sold for $140m

J.Jones. False Start. Oil on canvas. Sold for $80m

The most financially important purchases of works of art of the last season pertained to the post-war works of art and had the form of private deals. The first of these private deals took place in June 2006 and comprised the purchase for $135m of the Gustav Klimt’s «Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer» by Ronald Lauder. The auction house Christie’s assisted the sale. The painting retained the title of the most expensive painting in the world during the four months’ period.

Two other record deals took place in November without auction houses participation. A tycoon, David Geffen, sold the paintings by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Konning and Jasper Jones at record prices of: $140m, $137.5m and $80m respectively. After it (at the November Sale), the works of Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Clifford Still and Gerhard Richter beat their own selling records.

IMPRESSIONISTS AND ART NOUVEAU: KLIMT AND HIS FOLLOWER, MAAR AND HIS CAT

G. Klimt. «Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer». 1907. Sold for $135m. Ronald Lauder’s Collection

This sector survived a considerable price growth due to the last year’s restitution lawsuits. However, the prices grew not only in cases of the authors being connected with the restitution scandals.

The prices of Art Nouveu (the style popular today on both sides of the Atlantics) works are rather high and have a tendency to growing.
The great event was the purchase by an anonym Russian buyer of a Pablo Picasso’s portrait of «Dora Maar with Cat» for $95.216m (at Sotheby’s, New York) providing for the work a place in the world’s top ten most expensive paintings.
The Art Nouveau paintings sales started by the already mentioned purchase for $135m of the Gustav Klimt’s «Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer» by Ronald Lauder. Gustav Klimt’s «Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II» made $87.936m, not surpassing the estimate by a considerable sum, as also was in the case of the four works by Gustav Klimt’s follower Egon Schiele, purchased by Ronald Lauder for $39,248m (all these paintings were recently returned to the heirs to their pre-war owners in the results of the restitution lawsuits).

Auguste Rodin’s Andromeda’s price reached the level of $3.04m, by 4 times surpassing the estimate. Paul Gauguin’s «The Man with an Axe» made $40.336m on the same November sale at Christie’s.

So, the Art Nouveau items are sought for, and their prices will continue to grow. However, one must be careful with choosing a right target customers’ circle. For example, one Art Nouveau Sale was moved from Switzerland to Japan. However, it did not cause much interest among the Japanese collectors. May be, the reason is in this country having so reach a Decorative Art tradition that the Art Nouveau style, to a much extent based on the traditions of the Oriental Art, is of no big interest for the Japanese?

CHINA: DECORATIVE ART RETAINS THE PRICE LEVEL

Sabre. Quianlong epoch. Steel, nephrite. Length 90.0 cm. Estimate $1,031,360–1,550,000. Sold for $5,935,476. «Qianlong – Sovereign, Warrior, Patron». Sotheby’s. Hong-Kong, 10 April 2006

This year, the China sales could not surpass the price level set in July 2005 at Christie’s, when the vase from the Yuan epoch (1279–1368) was sold for $27,6m. Although, 2006 also featured some important sales in this sector.

At Sotheby’s, Hong-Kong, a nephrite hilt saber from the Quianlong epoch (XVIIIthC, Tsing dynasty) was sold for $5,935,476, surpassing the estimate range by nearly four times. Some time after it, the Red Sun International auction hose sold a Sung dynasty (Xth–XIIIthC) vase for $20m. This level stayed unsurpassed. Only Cristie’s approached it in December by selling a XVIIIth century bowl for $19,4.

THE RUSSIAN ANTIQUARIAT: THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING …

N. Roerich. Lao Zi. Tempera on canvas 73.7 И 115.5 cm. Estimate $200.000-300.000. Sold for $2,200,000. Sotheby's, New York. 26-28 April 2006

Of course, the prices of the world’s market of the Russian Antiques are considerably lower than the prices of the Western Modern Art items. However, the Russian Art and Russian auctions are considered to be a perspective sector of the art business.

The most famous deal of selling the Russian work of art was purchasing in February 2006 the Chaim Soutine’s painting «Carcass of Beef» at Christie’s for ₤7.848m, which is an absolute record for a work by a Russian master. The second position in the Russian «hit parade» is occupied by a chamber-style work, «Russian Pastoral» by Konstantin Somov. The work caused uproar at London’s Christie’s in course of the autumn «Russian Week». The painting was sold for £2,696.

The highest price was paid this year for «Varyags on the Dnieper River» by Ivan Ayvazovsky. The work by the famous marines painter was sold for £1.744m (inside the estimate).

Watches. By Faberge St.Petersburg. 1908-1917. Granite, silver, guilding. Weight 100 kg. Estimate SEK 10,000,000-15,000,000. Sold for SEK 19,100,000 (about $2,600,000). Bukowski's. Stockholm, 1 June 2006

Selling A. Yakovleva’s «Three Women in a Theatre Booth» was an important event of the autumn «Russian Week» at Sotheby’s (£1.016m). N. Roerich’s «Lao Zi» fetched a little more ($2.2m) also at Sotheby’s.
The record price was paid for a sketch of the slave’s head to «Christophany» by б. Ivanov (€1,42m) at the Uppsala Sale in Stockholm. Concerning the German auction houses, it is worth mentioning the interesting sale of V. Behterev’s «Courtesan». The Kettler Kunst auction house sold the work for €475,000, which was a record price for a Russian painting at the German auctions.

A pair of vases by the Imperial Porcelain Factory were the most expensive items of the Russian Applied Art sold in 2006. The new owner paid for them at the Autumn «Russian Week» Sale at Sotheby’s £2.808m.
Christie’s sold a pair of vases by the same factory for £640,000 in their autumn «Russian Week». This price level was neared by a sale by Swedish auction house of Bukowski’s of a monumental clock by Faberge for $2.6m (SEK 19.1m).
There is no need to repeat that the buyers of all these items are Russians.

OTHER IMPORTANT SALES OF 2006

Here we present some other important sales of 2006. They include paintings, applied-decorative art objects, jewelry and memorabilia, a source of nostalgia for both the auctioneers and the auction participants. We must also mention one characteristic feature of the last year’s sales: Art Deco items, elegant, reserved and stylish were constantly popular among the bidders.

Poltina. Jacob Reichel. 1845. Silver, weight 10.31 g. Stamped by the «Drosa» coin press. Estimate $300,000–400,000. Sold for $350,000. Jubilee auction of the Coins and Medals Company. Moscow, 15 April 2006

John Lennon’s school textbook. Sold for ₤126,000 Cooper Owen. Eghem, April 19th, 2006

JMW фurner. Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio. 1841. Oil on canvas. 61.0 И 91.5 cm. Sold for $35,856,000. Important Old Master Paintings. Christie’s. New York, April 2006

A.Egger-Lienz. Totentanz 1809. 1921. Oil on wood. 129.5 И 151 cm. Estimate €600,000–800,000. Sold €912,000. Dorotheum. Wien, 30 May 2006

Charlie Chaplin’s bowl-hat and walking-stick. Sold for $140,000. Rock n’ Roll and Film Memorabilia including Animation Art. Bonhams Butterfields. Los Angeles, 25 July 2006

Bracelet. Cartier. About 1925. Platinum, brilliants, sapphire. Length 17.5m. Estimate $6,000–8,000. Sold $102,000. Important Estate Jewelry. Doyle. New-York, 10 October 2006

Juber Givanchy. Audrey Hepburn’s dress, «Breakfast at Tiffany’s» movie. Satin. Estimate £50,000–70,000. Sold for £410,000. Christie’s. London, 5 December 2006

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