The autumn Impressionist and Modern Art Auctions are about to take place at Christie’s. I previewed the lots on my lunch hour. Here are few highlights with the estimates—because half the fun of these auctions are the price tags. I am still blown away by what people are willing to spend on a wall hanging. It’s important to view these works while you have the chance because it’s the only time many of them will ever been seen in public. They’re passing from one private collection to another. Once the auction is over, they’ll disappear above someone’s mantel on 5th Avenue. Additionally, I use the auction preview as an effective way to confirm my position on the economic totem pole.
I’m going to make a blanket statement and say these photos do no justice to the work. The lighting is poor for camera phones. I’m still waiting on my iPhone 5 upgrade with its superior camera sensor. After the auction, I’ll come back and post the prices realized. More rubber-necking.
This sculpture greets you at the entrance. Tulips by Jeff Koons. I like it. It was a sunny, blue-sky day when I saw it and the light gleamed bright off of its surface. They’re in a shallow reflecting pool, which is a fantastic way to display this.
My favorite part of this piece is the estimate. The estimate is: “Estimate on Request.” Do you know how much that is
? It’s a lot. It’s if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it. SOLD: $33,682,500
. And you would display this where
I really love this piece, too. Nude with Red Shirt by Roy Lichtenstein. What’s that swoosh of hair on the left? Is someone watching her? It’s very, very, very sexy, don’t you think? Est. $12,000,000-18,000,000. SOLD: $28,082,500. Well above the estimate!
Mark Rothko’s Black Strip (Orange, Gold and Black). To me, this is something I could hang in my den and greet day after day. Est. $15,000,000-20,000,000. SOLD: $21,362,500. That’s $5,340,625 per color.
Here’s the centerpiece of the auction. Nympheas
by Monet. Est. $30,000,000-50,000,000. I run hot and cold with the Impressionists, but this is pretty nice. I got kind of woozy standing in front of it. I don’t know if that was because of Monet’s brush work or the estimate. SOLD: $43,762,500
. Right in the estimate ballpark.
Does anybody not
like Modigliani? Nobody does a woman’s seductive neck like this guy. His Jeanne Hebuterne (Au Chapeau)
is estimated at £16,000,000-22,000,000. I wish I could have gotten a better shot of this. Her warmth does not show through. SOLD: £16.36m
Sun Water Maine
by Georgia O’Keeffe. I had to take this pic at an angle because of the terrible glare on the glass from the gallery light. Poorly hung, but beautifully painted. Est. $1,000,000-1,500,000. Might be worth it, if you ask me.
Two by poor, prematurely dead, Andy Warhol. Statue of Liberty. Estimate on Request!? Really?! I wonder why? What makes this one so special? I can’t wait for the results. SOLD: $43,762,500. I found out what the big deal was. It’s printed in a green/red overlay and if you wear 3D glasses, it pops.
Brillo Soap Pads
. Est. $500,000-700,000. This, perhaps, the biggest goof played on the modern art world. Andy is laughing in his grave, I’m sure. SOLD: $410,500
. Under estimate. A bargain.
With every auction there has to be some junk thrown in. It proves, time and time again, that wealth is not a barometer of good taste. It’s up to me, from high atop my pedestal, to point out where people are being careless with their discretionary income.
Oh, my, my. Moutons de Laine, Un Troupeau de 24 Moutons by François-Xavier Lalanne. It’s stuffed sheep. 24 of ’em. He didn’t bother to put heads on some of them. So lazy. They’re mingling in the corridors that lead to the galleries. See the black one in the middle? So clever. Est. $4,000,000-6,000,000. Help yourself. Baaaaaa. SOLD: $5,682,500.
I have never seen a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that I thought was worth a damn and this certainly doesn’t change things. Untitled
. Estimate on Request?! Is that a typo?! SOLD: $26,402,500
. Proving, once again, that crap sells.
by Gerhard Richter. Est. $9,000,000-12,000,000. I cannot fathom why anyone would spend 10 MILLION dollars on this. I know Richter is hot right now but that’s no excuse. I don’t mind being challenged but this thing is beyond my ken. Feel free to school (or scold) me in the comments section. DID NOT SELL
. Because it’s crap, obviously.
Buste de Femme
by Picasso. I don’t know. On second thought, I guess I kind of like it. But if I had $8,000,000-12,000,000 and could only buy one painting, I’d probably go for the Modigliani. Wouldn’t you?