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Print Auctions Yield Solid Prices Amid a Drop in Volume

Auctions of prints and multiples at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Swann Galleries in New York on April 29-May 2 yielded a total of $26.6 million, down from $40.1 million last spring (ANL, 5/15/07).

NEW YORK—Auctions of prints and multiples at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Swann Galleries in New York on April 29-May 2 yielded a total of $26.6 million, down from $40.1 million last spring (ANL, 5/15/07). Despite a drop in overall volume, the auctioneers reported solid individual prices and high sold percentages by lot for the hundreds of works on offer.

Christie’s sales on April 29-30 realized $12.4 million, down from $18.9 million last year. Of 580 lots on offer, 491, or 85 percent, were sold. Tudor Davies, Christie’s head of prints and multiples, noted “solid, international bidding across all areas.” A record for a single print by Jasper Johns was set when Flags I, a 1973 screenprint in colors, sold for $623,400 (estimate: $400,000/600,000). The top lot, however, a set of ten Mao screenprints in colors, 1972, by Andy Warhol, sold for $713,000, under the estimate of $800,000/1.2 million.

Warhol, Chagall Prints Top Christie’s Sale

Works by Warhol and Marc Chagall dominated the high end of the auction. Four Tales from Arabian Nights, a set of 12 Chagall lithographs, fetched $445,000 (estimate: $350,000/450,000). In addition, a set of 42 lithographs, Daphnis and Chloë, 1961, brought in $361,000 (estimate: $300,000/400,000), while Cirque, 1967, sold for $193,000 (estimate: $180,000/220,000) to a U.S. dealer.

Top-selling Warhol prints ranged from Mick Jagger, 1975 ($421,000 for a complete set of ten screenprints) to Flowers ($421,000 for a set of ten) to Cowboys and Indians ($157,000 for a set of ten).

Munch Leads at Sotheby’s

At Sotheby’s May 1-2 sales, the house realized $11.6 million, down from $17.9 million last spring. Of 535 lots on offer, 449, or 84 percent, were sold. The two highest prices were for works by Edvard Munch. Angst, an 1892 lithograph, brought $892,000, much higher than the estimate of $200,000/300,000, and a lithograph, Madonna, 1895-1902, brought in $679,400 (estimate: $600,000/800,000).

Other works that fetched strong prices were Jasper Johns’s 0 through 9, a 1960 lithograph, which sold for $157,000 (estimate: $50,000/70,000) to a U.S. dealer, and Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can, a portfolio of ten prints, 1968, which brought $277,000 (estimate: $250,000/350,000). Mary Bartow, Sotheby’s specialist in charge of the sale, said the high end of the auction demonstrated “great interest in iconic images by important artists.” She noted intense bidding for Richard Diebenkorn’s High Green, Version I, which sold for $199,000, at the top end of the $150,000/200,000 estimate.

Swann reported a total of $2.6 million for its “Old Master through Modern Prints” sale on May 1, down from last year’s $3.3 million result. The top lot was Rembrandt’s Christ before Pilate, an etching, engraving and drypoint, 1635-36, which sold for $84,000. That was followed by James Abbot McNeill Whistler’s 1879-80 etching Doorway and Vine, which brought in $60,000 (estimate: $4,000/6,000). Edgar Degas’s monotype Femme se levant dans sa baignoire, circa 1895, sold for $57,600 (estimate: $30,000/50,000).

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