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Sotheby’s $8M Print Sale Points To ‘Huge Growth of the Market’

Sotheby’s Oct. 3 print sale in London, comprised of Old Master, modern and contemporary prints, realized a total of £4.3 million ($8.1 million), pointing to robust demand across a wide range of genres. Of 317 lots offered, 269, or 85 percent, found buyers. By value the auction was 93 percent sold.

LONDON—Sotheby’s Oct. 3 print sale in London, comprised of Old Master, modern and contemporary prints, realized a total of £4.3 million ($8.1 million), pointing to robust demand across a wide range of genres. Of 317 lots offered, 269, or 85 percent, found buyers. By value the auction was 93 percent sold.

The sale featured several prints by Edvard Munch, many of which figured in the top lots. All brought prices well over estimate—and an 1899 woodcut, Two Human Beings, The Lonely Ones, commanded £568,000 ($1.1 million), a record for a print by Munch (estimate: £150,000/180,000).

“Each of the seven prints by Munch sold for well above its estimates,” reports Susan Harris, a specialist in charge of the sale. The results demonstrate, she says, “the huge recent growth of the market for works by the Norwegian artist.” Another woodcut, Two Women on the Shore, 1898, fetched £187,200 ($353,527), way above the estimate of £70,000/100,000; and Woman’s Head Against the Shore, 1899, flew past its £60,000 high estimate to bring £164,800 ($311,225).

The highest price was given for a complete set of 100 etchings by Pablo Picasso, whose Suite Vollard fetched £657,600 ($1.2 million) from a European dealer. Sotheby’s expectations for the work were high, considering the £600,000/900,000 presale estimate. The house called the price a record for this particular suite of Picasso prints.

Cy Twombly’s Roman Notes, a set of six lithographs, 1970, brought £114,000, or $215,289 (estimate: £100,000/120,000). Two works by Roy Lichtenstein also figured among the top lots: Reverie, a 1965 screen print sold for £96,000, or $181,296 (estimate: £50,000/60,000); and Reflections on the Scream brought £60,000, or $113,310 (estimate: £35,000/40,000).

“Good quality works from all periods sold for excellent prices,” says Harris, “testifying to the current strength of the market.”

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