Art traditionally comes to auction because of the three D’s: death, debt and divorce. This season, an extra D played a major role: deaccessioning, or sales, by museums.
An assortment of works from the Brooklyn Museum generated $19.9 million at Sotheby’s Wednesday sale, led by a mid-century dining table and a Claude Monet landscape. A monumental summary portray by Helen Frankenthaler from the Palm Springs Art Museum surpassed estimates, selling for $4.7 million.
But the biggest fireworks erupted over the lots that weren’t offered, including a twosome of paintings from the Baltimore Museum of Art that were pulled just two hours before the auction after days of mounting pressure on the museum.
The pandemic has upended the decades-old auction format and schedule. The big traditional November sales in New York have been replaced by smaller events in October and December, with live auctions giving way to live-streaming spectacles. Sotheby’s said it drew nearly 1 million viewers to its Impressionist, contemporary and modern art auction Wednesday, which used to be broadcast from New York, London and Hong Kong and brought in a complete of $283.9 million.
Ron Perelman’s 9-foot-tall “Grande femme I” by Alberto Giacometti, offered privately with a minimum tender of $90 million, found a buyer, though Sotheby’s declined to remark on the acquirer’s identity or the price. Perelman’s “Femme de Venise IV,” also by Giacometti, which used to be supposed to go to auction with an estimate of $14 million to $18 million, used to be pulled final minute following a private sale, Sotheby’s said.
Perelman’s third Giacometti, “Femme Leoni,” used to be the costliest thing of the evening, selling for $25.9 million, inside the expected range. (Prices include Sotheby’s fees; estimates don’t.) The billionaire has sold no less than $480 million worth of art since July after saying he used to be reworking his holdings in response to the pandemic while seeking to simplify his life.
All seven offerings from the Brooklyn Museum found buyers. A 1949 dining room table by Carlo Mollino, with a rib-cage like enhance visible through the glass top, sold for $6.2 million, doubling the high estimate and setting an auction record for the Italian designer. The museum received it as a gift from the Italian government in 1954, according to Sotheby’s.
The institution, which has been running a deficit for decades, is looking for to bring $45 million to create a fund to take care of its collection. It’s more than midway to the goal, having earlier sold $6.8 million of art at Christie’s, including its sole Lucas Cranach portray.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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