School is out and vacations for many are finally beginning in earnest, but the art market just keeps chugging! Tonight in London, Sotheby’s sold £178.6 million ($280.5 million) worth of art at its annual June Impressionist and modern evening sale, absolutely trouncing its arch-rival Christie’s, which brought in £71.4 million ($113 million) at its sale yesterday.
The top lot of the auction was a nearly six-foot-tall portrait of a pink–cheeked Gertha Baruch von Felsőványi by Klimt, which handily surpassed its high estimate of £18 million ($28.3 million), selling for £24.8 million ($38.9 million) with buyer’s premium. (All sales figures include buyer’s premium.) The sell-through late by lot was 84 percent.
The number-two lot of the night came in just behind Klimt, at £21.4 million ($33.6 million): a 1915 Malevich, with piercing rectangles of green, black, yellow, and two shades of blue. That was just good enough to put it over its £20 million ($31.4 million) low estimate, though the house had estimated that it could have gone as high as £30 million ($47.1 million). The piece, titled Suprematism, 18th Construction, had come directly from the artist’s heirs.
One more delectable item worthy of mention: a small painting from 1881 by Manet titled Le Bar aux Folies-Bergère, of the same subject that the artist depicted in the eponymous masterpiece that now hangs at in London at the Courtauld Institute. It made £16.95 million ($26.6 million), edging out its low estimate of £15 million.
And no, the auctions are still not done for the season. Day sales are in the offing tomorrow, and the houses will sell postwar and contemporary art in London next week.