PARIS—On Jan. 27, Christie’s France successfully auctioned off art and art objects—including author-autographed books and rare music—from the collection of Jean Claude Abreu (1922–2006). The famed backer and publisher of the French art magazine L’oeil, Abreu was also a well-known collector and musicologist. He entirely subsidized L’oeil, but made certain his name never appeared on the masthead or in even in the fine print.
The collection of 249 paintings and objects, estimated overall at E600,000/800,000, surpassed that estimate, bringing in a total of E948,800 ($1.3 million). A total of 237 lots sold, representing 95 percent by lot and 98 percent by value.
The top lot in the auction was the painting Personnage écrivant, an oil and charcoal on canvas, ca. 1931 by Louis Marcoussis, which nearly quadrupled its estimate of E20,000/30,000, fetching E115,000 ($157,263). The second-highest lot was Edouard Vuillard’s pastel on blue paper, La plage vue de la cabine, 1914, estimated at E60,000/80,000, which sold for E85,000 ($116,238). Other top lots included Lynn Chadwick’s bronze sculpture The Watcher, 1959, which realized E73,000 ($99,828), within the estimate of E60,000/80,000, and Raoul Dufy’s work on paper Bouquet de fleurs aux arums, made in watercolor, gouache and traces of pencil, ca. 1942, which brought E61,000 ($83,418) against an estimate of E50,000/70,000.
One of the most surprising sales was that of a tiny, gold-patinated bronze by French sculptor Cesar of a thumb, measuring, 71⁄2 inches high, conceived in 1965 and realized in 1980, which sold for more than ten times its estimate of E3,000/4,000 for E56,200 ($76,854). An untitled ink on paper work by Henri Michaux, estimated at E6,000/8,000, sold for E27,400 ($37,470).
Still Life with a Mandolin, an oil on canvas credited to “circle of Bartolomeo Bettera,” the 17th-century Italian master, sold for E21,250 ($29,060), within its estimate of E20,000/30,000.
Other works in the sale included a 1984 lithograph by Jean Dubuffet, Avènement I, estimated at E3,000/4,000 and sold for E4,750 ($6,496); a man’s head in bronze by Austrian artist Fritz Wotruba, which sold for E39,400 ($53,880), against an estimate of E15,000/20,000; and Les Illuminations: Portrait de Rimbaud, a lithograph by Fernand Léger, which sold for E2,250 ($3,077), more than seven times its estimate of E200/300.