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Second Arte Español ‘Surpasses All Expectations’

Christie’s second annual auction of Arte Español, held in Madrid on Oct. 5, set nearly 20 artist records, with some pieces climbing far past their estimated prices. The auction brought E8 million ($9.6 million) and was 91 percent sold by value. Of 122 lots on offer, 69 percent, or 84 works, found buyers.

NEW YORK—Christie’s second annual auction of Arte Español, held in Madrid on Oct. 5, set nearly 20 artist records, with some pieces climbing far past their estimated prices. The auction brought €8 million ($9.6 million) and was 91 percent sold by value. Of 122 lots on offer, 69 percent, or 84 works, found buyers.

Says Christie’s specialist Juan Varez: The “excellent result surpasses all expectations” and marks an increase over the €5.2 million achieved last year: “We have seen an increase of international bids,” he says, “although European and Spanish bidders continue to dominate.”

Two works by the studio of El Greco (Doménikos Theotokopoulos, 1541- 1614) topped the sale. The best price was €1.3 million ($1.4 million) for San Lucas, 1614-18, which had carried a presale estimate of just €100,000/150,000. This was followed by €997,600 ($1.2 million) for Santiago el mayor, 1600-14, also by the studio of El Greco.

Other strong prices at the top end of the sale included: €549,600 ($657,321) for Mallorca, by Hermenegildo Angelada Camarasa (1872-1959); E549,600 ($657,321) for Mujer asomada a la puerta del jardín, 1902, by Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930); and €572,000 ($674,112) for Baile valenciano en la huerta, 1889-90, by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923).

Varez reports that exhibitions in London, Seville, Valencia and Barcelona had helped generate widespread interest in the paintings on offer. “This,” he suggests, “gave collectors the opportunity to examine the works prior to the auction,” noting the selective buying audience.

A record was set for Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia (b. 1936) when Mujer durmiendo (El sueño), 1963, sold above its high $600,000 estimate for €684,000, or $818,064.

Among other artists’ records that were set: Cranach como pretexto, 1992, by Manalo Valdés (b. 1942), brought €236,000 ($282,256); Comienzo azul, 1982, by José Guerrero (1914-91), sold for €132,000 ($157,872); and Estela, 1987, by Jaume Plensa (b.1955), fetched €36,000 ($43,056).

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