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Eclectic Mix Headlines $17.9M Print Sales in London

The Sotheby’s and Christie’s London sales of prints in early April covered a broad range of genres and met with wide-ranging demand, particularly from European and U.S. buyers.

NEW YORK—The Sotheby’s and Christie’s London sales of prints in early April covered a broad range of genres and met with wide-ranging demand, particularly from European and U.S. buyers. Together they fetched a total of £9 million ($17.9 million).

Sotheby’s sale of Old Master, modern and contemporary prints realized £4.4 million ($8.7 million). Of 455 lots offered, 343, or 75 percent, were sold. By value the auction brought 84 percent. Works by Pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein dominated the high end of the sale.

At Christie’s the total was £4.6 million ($9.2 million), with a smaller number of offerings—378 lots on offer, of which 272, or 72 percent, were sold. By value the auction brought 83 percent.

At Sotheby’s seven of the ten highest prices were for works by Warhol. The top figure of £222,500 ($440,127) was given by a U.S. dealer for Myths, 1981 (estimate: £150,000/180,000). It was followed by the £216,500 ($428,259) paid for Endangered Species, 1983 (estimate: £100,000/150,000), by a European collector; and Campbell’s Soup, 1968, which sold for £180,500, or $357,047 (estimate: £100,000/150,000). Each of the three lots contained a set of ten prints.

The top price for a work by Lichtenstein was the £96,500, or $190,900 (estimate: £80,000/120,000), paid for his relief print Nude with Yellow Pillow, 1994; this was followed by the artist’s Reverie, a 1965 screenprint that fetched £54,500, or $107,806 (estimate: £50,000/60,000).

The only other artist listed among the top lots at Sotheby’s was Pierre-Auguste Renoir. His 1898 lithograph Le chapeau épingle . . . brought £44,900, or $88,817 (estimate: £40,000/60,000).

Comments Jennie Fisher, Sotheby’s head of the prints department: “Works of high quality, from [Albrecht] Dürer to Pop, sold for premium prices, While certain areas of the sale demonstrated that some mid-level works have found their level, many other sections of the sale excelled.”

Among other highlights of the sale, Fisher notes, was a lithograph by Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfight No. 1, 1971, which more than tripled the £7,000 high estimate to sell for £23,300 ($46,000); and Tom Wesselmann’s Still Life with Liz, which went for £26,900 ($53,200), generously topping the high estimate of £18,000.

At Christie’s the top lot was a print by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, from a private collection, which sold for £692,500 ($1.4 million). Three prints by Edvard Munch were among the top lots, including By the Deathbed, 1896, which brought £204,500, or $402,501 (estimate: £30,000/50,000); and Death in the Sickroom, 1896, which sailed past the £50,000 high estimate to make £168,500 ($333,300). Says Christie’s head of prints in London, Richard Lloyd: “The strength of the Munch market continues, with private Norwegian buyers competing furiously.”

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