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Strong Showing for Prints and Multiples at New York Auctions

Auctions of prints and multiples at various New York salerooms late last month were met with strong demand and solid prices, with two of the biggest sales taking place on Oct. 27–28.

NEW YORK—Auctions of prints and multiples at various New York salerooms late last month were met with strong demand and solid prices, with two of the biggest sales taking place on Oct. 27–28. Christie’s two-day sale included 440 lots, of which 373, or 85 percent, found buyers. The sale earned a total of $7.6million, within the $5.8mil­lion/$8.3million estimate, and was 91 percent sold by value. Works by Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall yielded some of the highest prices. A set of ten color screenprints from a 1970 “Flowers” suite by Warhol was the top lot, selling for $386,500, just above the estimate of $250,000/350,000. Other works by the artist also sold well, such as Reigning Queens (Royal Edition), 1985, a set of four color screenprints featuring Queen Elizabeth II, which brought $170,500 on an estimate of $70,000/90,000; a color screenprint, Marilyn, 1967, which sold for $134,500 on an estimate of $100,000/150,000; and another 1985 set of four Reigning Queens screenprints, featuring Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, which brought in $98,500 on an estimate of $30,000/50,000.

Chagall’s lithograph Daphnis et Chlöe, 1961, was the second-highest lot of the sale, bringing $314,500 on a $200,000/300,000 estimate, just ahead of his lithograph Cinque, 1967, which brought $218,500 on a $160,000/180,000 estimate. Chagall’s color lithograph La Joie, 1980, was also among the top lots, selling for $92,500 on a $50,000/70,000 estimate.

Tudor Davies, head of prints and multiples at Christie’s, noted that the sale was “twice as large as the one we had in April.” He added that the traditional view of prints as a “starting point” for people who are beginning to collect art has been replaced by “a wider acceptance of the idea that prints are a legitimate part of an artist’s body of work, and we are seeing people who already collect paintings competing for prints.”

Other strong performers included Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s color lithograph Seated Clown, 1896, which sold for $194,500 on a $180,000/220,000 estimate; a 1969 Jasper Johns relief print, Flag, which sold for $122,500 on a $40,000/60,000 estimate; and Willem de Kooning’s Quatre Lithographies, 1986, which sold for $92,500 on an estimate of $50,000/70,000.

Doyle Sale Draws Private Buyers

At Doyle’s three-part sale of contemporary prints, rare books and autographs, and photographs on Oct. 28, a 1967 color lithograph by Charles Sorlier based on Chagall’s The Magic Flute was the top lot, selling for $43,750, well ahead of the auctioneer’s $20,000/30,000 estimate. Of the 534 lots on offer, 518, or 91 percent, were sold. The sale brought in $1.2million, at the top of the $803,600/1.2 million estimate.

In Doyle’s sale, the estimates were on target—most of the time. Abraham’s Sacrifice, 1656, a drypoint and etching by Rembrandt van Rijn, sold for $40,625, at the top end of the estimate of $30,000/40,000; Chagall’s Studio, 1976, a suite of seven lithographs and two woodcuts by Chagall, brought $10,625 on an $8,000/10,000 estimate; and Chuck Close’s lithograph Phil/Fingerprint, 1981, sold for $8,125 also at the top end of its estimate, of $6,000/8,000.

Typically prices fell right in the middle of the estimates, as with David Hockney’s lithograph Pembroke Studio Interior, 1984, which sold for $17,500 on an estimate of $15,000/20,000. Chagall’s color lithograph Half Opened Window, 1975, sold for $13,750 on a $10,000/15,000 estimate; Robert Doisneau’s black-and-white photograph Un Regard Oblique, 1948, fetched $4,375 on a $3,000/5,000 estimate; Edward Curtis’s undated platinum print Three Chiefs, Piegan, sold for $5,000 on a $4,000/6,000 estimate; and Robert Motherwell’s color lithograph Lament for Lorca, 1982, sold for $10,625 on a $8,000/12,000 estimate.

Louis Webre, Doyle’s vice president in charge of marketing, told ARTnewsletter that the auction house has a “higher-than-average number of private collectors” buying in its sales than the other New York auction houses. “They’re not looking for immediate resales,” he said, “so they tend to bid higher than dealers, who often buy for inventory or for particular clients.” Unlike other auctioneers in Manhattan, Doyle did not have reserves on most of the pieces in this sale, although, Webre said, “we protect all the lots by not selling anything at less than 50 percent of the low estimate.”

Five of the top six lots in Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th- and 20th-century prints and drawings on Sept. 24 were by Pablo Picasso, led by the etching and drypoint The Frugal Repast, 1904, which sold for $108,000, within the estimate of $80,000/120,000. Other top lots by Picasso were the pencil drawing Méléager Killing the Calydonian Boar, circa 1930, which sold for $45,000 (estimate: $50,000/75,000); the color linoleum cut Woman with a Floral Hat, 1962, which sold for $31,200 (estimate: $20,000/30,000); a 1955 color lithograph after Seated Woman, which sold for $27,600 (estimate: $15,000/20,000); and a circa-1960 color collotype after Harlequin and Her Company, which sold for $20,400 (estimate: $15,000/20,000).

Night Shadows, 1921, an etching by Edward Hopper, sold for $36,000 on an estimate of $30,000/50,000, and James McNeill Whistler’s etching Temple, 1881, brought in $24,000, four times the estimate of $4,000/6,000. In all, the sale realized $1.6million, below the $1.9million/$2.8million estimate, and 70 percent of the 667 lots found buyers.

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