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Buoyant Israeli Art Sale About Doubles Year-Ago Tota

The Sotheby’s auction of Israeli and international art on March 15, the second such sale held in New York after being relocated from Tel Aviv last year, pulled in a strong $4 million total, well above the $2.7 million realized in the fine art section of the Israeli auction last year.

NEW YORK—The Sotheby’s auction of Israeli and international art on March 15, the second such sale held in New York after being relocated from Tel Aviv last year, pulled in a strong $4 million total, well above the $2.7 million realized in the fine art section of the Israeli auction last year.

The top lot was the 1962 oil-on-canvas Patience, by Mordecai Ardon (1896-1992), which sold for $228,000 (estimate: $120,000/180,000). The work was seconded by Outskirts of Tel Aviv, circa 1923, by Reuven Rubin (1893-1974), which fetched $204,000 (estimate: $150,000/250,000). Sotheby’s said the work, featured as the catalogue’s cover lot, dates from one of the artist’s “most productive periods, during which he was consciously seeking to forge a distinctive national style in Israel.”

Most of the top-selling works fetched solid six-figure prices within their presale estimate ranges. These included a painting by Edouard Moyse, Synagogue During the Reading of the Law, 1859, which was shown at the Paris Salon of 1861. Estimated at $150,000/200,000, the painting fetched $192,000 from an American collector. Nature Morte, a Cubist-style painting by Henri Hayden (1883-1970), brought $150,000 (estimate: $130,000/160,000).

Says Rivka Saker, who heads Sotheby’s Tel Aviv: “This was a sensational sale totaling over $4 million, a 50 percent increase over last year’s sale, with many new American buyers.” Saker points out that auction records were set for eight artists, including Ludwig Blum, Menashe Kadishman, Moshe Kupferman and Lea Nikel. Untitled, a 1999 color photograph of 14 soldiers gathered at a table in an abandoned barracks, by Adi Nes (b. 1966), went for $102,000 (estimate: $40,000/60,000)—“an exceptional price for a young photographer,” notes Saker.

The auction was timed to dovetail with artis05, a series of Israeli art events in New York that were held during the Armory Show.

One work that more than doubled its high estimate of $70,000 was Head of a Man, by Itzhak Danziger (1916-77), a plaster sculpture that realized $174,000.

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