Masterworks Land Massive Prices at Christie’s, Including $75 Million for a Monet

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Masterworks of the 20th century sold for multi-million dollar prices at Christie’s Thursday evening sale, including works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko.

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The highest price achieved in a series of strong results was for Claude Monet’s Le Parlement, soleil couchant, from philanthropist and investor Anne H. Bass’s collection. The work fetched US$75 million, with fees, after nearly six minutes of bidding. It was expected to achieve at least US$60 million.

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The biggest drama of the evening was for Ernie Barnes’ The Sugar Shack, a 1976 painting of an exuberant dance-hall scene, which was expected to achieve US$200,000 at most and sold for US$15.275 million, with fees, after nearly 11 minutes of steady bidding. The final volleys were exchanged between two bidders in the saleroom during an auction of 20th century art that followed the single-owner sale of the Bass collection.

Another strong result was for Emmanuel Leutze’s
Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851, which fetched US$45 million, with fees, more than double the high range of a presale estimate. The painting, which had hung periodically in the White House over 35 years, is the only example of Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware in private hands.

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The 3.3 foot-by-5.7 foot painting—a smaller version of a nearly identical work hung at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—was most recently known to be owned by the Minnesota collectors Mary Burrichter and her husband, Bob Kierlin. The couple had loaned it from March 2015 to March 2022 to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, which they had founded. Christie’s and the museum will not comment on the consignor’s identity, however.

The other big-ticket sales of the evening included dramatic Mark Rothko paintings from the Bass collection, which were both guaranteed. Untitled (Shades of Red), Realized US$66.8 million, while No. 1realized US$49.6 million.

A Monet waterlily, also in the Bass collection, sold for US$56.6 million, with fees, at the high end of presale estimate, while the artist’s Peupliers au bord de l’Epte, automne, sold for $36.5 million with fees. During the 20th century sale, Monet’s La mare, effet de neige, achieved US$25.6 million, while Champ d’avoine et de coquelicotsrealized US$14.1 million, and L’arbre en boule, Argenteuil, Realized US$10.1 million.

Edgar Degas’ Petite danseuse de quatorze anssold for US$41.6 million with fees, above a US$30 million high presale estimate, again from the Bass collection.

During the 20th century sale, which took place after the Bass collection, Picasso’s Tête de femme (Fernande) The sculpture, which was deaccessioned from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sold for nearly US$48.5 million, with fees, above a US$30 million estimate range.

Also, Pollock’s Number 31sold for US$54.2 million, with fees, and Vincent van Gogh’s Champ press des alpilles, sold for nearly US$52 million, with fees. Both were sold with estimates on request in the region of US$45 million.

The sale of 12 works in the Bass collection, half of which were estimated to achieve in excess of US$20 million, was expected to realize at least US$243 million. The collector was the former wife of Sid Bass, who earned his fortune in the oil business.

It also included the sale of Balthus’ Jeane fille la fenêtrefor US$10.2 million, above a US$6 million high estimate, and Wilhelm Hammershoi’s
Stue (Interior with an Oval Mirror)for US$6.3 million, above a US$2.5 million high estimate.

The evening of largely classic modern works and abstract expressionists was capped by the sale of a dinosaur skeleton of the species Deinonychus Antirrhopus, “Hector,” as the skeleton is known, sold for US$12.4 million, double the high end of its presale estimate.

Hector, which includes 126 fossil bones and is said to be the most complete known example of this species, was found in the Cloverly Formation of Wolf Canyon in Carbon County, Montana. This predator of the early Cretacious period preceded Tyrannosaurus rexby 50 million years.

The auction house has had success with dinosaur skeletons in the past, selling “Stan,” a T. rex skeleton, for nearly US$32 million, with fees, in October 2020. Stan will be displayed at the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi when the museum opens in 2025.


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