Following the launch of the Venice Biennale (until 24 November), the art market returns with gusto this week on both sides of the Atlantic. In some of the busiest days of the year for the auction world, this week will host both the Impressionist & Modern Art and Post War & Contemporary sales in New York, and important jewellery and watch auctions in Geneva.
IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART
Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale kicks off Modern Week at the auction house with ‘Arbres dans le jardin de l’asile’ (1889), a rarely-seen landscape by Vincent van Gogh which is offered from the collection of the late S.I. Newhouse. Having been shown only once since 1924 – at an exhibition in Switzerland in 1964 – this is a rare opportunity to see the painting, even if you’re not bidding; it is expected to realise about $25 million. Offered from the same collection is ‘Bouilloire et fruits’ (1880-1906) by Paul Cézanne which has an unpublished estimate of around $40 million.
Elsewhere ‘Tête’ by Amadeo Modigliani is expected to make $30 million to £40 million. This limestone head is one of just 26 known sculptures by the artist, and one of the very few in private hands. Admirers of Modigliani may also be interested in his ‘Portrait of Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire)’, painted in 1919, offered with a price tag of $12 million to $18 million.
At Sotheby’s on 14th May, the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale features two stunning oil paintings by Claude Monet depicting the fields outside of Giverny. ‘Meules’ (1891) is from the artist’s renowned Haystacks series and is expected to make over $55 million. Of the eight works by Pablo Picasso in the sale, the top estimates are for two works from the 1960s: ‘Femme au Chien’ (1962) featuring the artist’s Afghan hound Kaboul (estimate $25 million to $30 million) and the flamboyant ‘Mousquetaire à la pipe’ (1968) (estimate $20 million to $30 million).
POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART
Grabbing much of the limelight this week is another work from the collection of the late S.I. Newhouse; Jeff Koons’ ‘Rabbit’ which highlights the Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale at Christie’s New York on 15 May where it is estimated to sell for $50 million to $70 million. Proclaimed by Christie’s as “one of the most iconic works of 20th century art” the shiny steel sculpture combines a Minimalist sheen with a naïve sense of play. The instantly recognisable work is also very rare – it was only cast in an edition of three, plus an artist’s proof, and as such is expected to attract much interest. Other highlights of this sale include Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Buffalo II’ and Andy Warhol’s iconic ‘Double Elvis’, which both carry estimates of $50 million to $70 million.
Sotheby’s has attracted a similar line-up of big names for their Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 16 May, with Mark Rothko’s ‘Untitled’ expected to be the top lot (estimate $35 million to $50 million). Created at the peak of Rothko’s career this exquisite work of meditative colours embodies the artist’s extraordinary artistic practice. The auction also features the angst-ridden ‘Study for a Head’ by Francis Bacon ($20 million to $30 million) and Gerhard Richter’s richly coloured ‘Kerzenscein (Candlelight)’ ($7 million to $9 million).
Phillips is offering one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most compelling self-portraits, titled ‘Self-portrait’ (1983). Painted on two reclaimed doors, the creation of this painting is recorded in Tamra Davis’ documentary ’The Radiant Child’ possibly the only existing film documentation of Basquiat working on a painting. The work is offered from the collection of the late Matt Dike, the influential hip-hop producer, and is. expected to fetch $9 million to $12 million. A further highlight of this sale is Untitled XVI (1976) by Willem de Kooning which is estimated at $8 million to $12 million.
JEWELS AND WATCHES
In Geneva this week, Sotheby’s are offering a glittering array of gems in their Magnificent and Noble Jewels sale on 14 May. The auction features an emerald and diamond necklace owned by Hélène Beaumont (1894-1988), one of the great personalities of the Côte d’Azur, which provides an elegant statement of her style (estimate 3 million to 4 million CHF).
The ‘Jonker V’ will headline the Magnificent Jewels sale at Christie’s the next day. When it was discovered in 1934 the 726-carat rough diamond was the fourth largest gem quality diamond ever unearthed. In 1935 it became the first of Harry Winston’s renowned acquisitions of exceptional diamonds. The diamond ring is now estimated to sell for 2.5 million to 3.5 million CHF. The sale also featured the Imperial Emerald of Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia. Inherited from Catherine the Great, the emerald and diamond pendent necklace is expected to attract much attention. (estimate 2.3 million to 3.5 million CHF).
And for something a bit different head to Christie’s Rare Watches auction in Geneva on 13 May where you can get your hands on Andy Warhol’s Rolex. The Rolex Ref. 3525 steel and gold chronograph is one of the most sought-after vintage Rolex models and, with the addition of its celebrity provenance, the estimate is $195,000-300,000.