PARIS—The collection of the late French actor and filmmaker Gérard Oury, featuring a number of masterworks by French painter Raoul Dufy, was auctioned at Artcurial April 20–21 to great success. The sale brought in a total of €6.54 million ($8.5 million), comfortably above the low estimate of €4.35 million. In all, 84 percent of the 308 lots were sold. Works on paper were particularly successful in the sale.
Oury, who died in 2006, directed a series of immensely successful comic films, including La grande vadrouille (Don’t Look Now, We’re Being Shot At), 1966.
The sale’s first session offered 38 lots—many of them major oils by Dufy—which brought in €5.5 million ($7.2 million) with premium. Bateaux et barques aux Martigues, 1907–8, a Fauvist oil painting of boats, was the top lot of the auction, selling for €644,922 ($841,600) on an estimate of €500,000/700,000. Scène de pesage, 1949, a horse-racing scene in oil on canvas, sold for €570,570 ($744,600) against an estimate of €450,000/650,000.
That first day, many works on paper far surpassed their estimates: Visite de l’escadre anglaise au Havre, 1927–29, a gouache and graphite on paper, came in well over its €230,000/350,000 estimate at €471,434 ($640,500). This result matched the record for a gouache by Dufy, set by Epsom, 1937, at Sotheby’s in London in February 2007.
Nature morte au jardin Saint-Emilion, 1940, a watercolor and gouache, sold for €198,810 ($259,400), well above its €30,000/40,000 estimate. Orchestre au pupitre vert, 1941, a depiction of an orchestra in gouache and ink, surpassed its estimate of €100,000/150,000 to sell for €223,594 ($290,670). Vente à l’Hôtel Drouot, 1934, a gouache, ink and pencil work depicting an auction, sold for €124,458 ($162,400) on an estimate of €30,000/40,000.
Even in the lower ranges, works on paper soared far above their estimates. A watercolor still life of pears and lemons, 1946, more than doubled its estimate of €10,000/15,000 to sell for €37,714 ($49,200).
Robust Bidding Carries Over to Second Day
The second day of the auction offered 324 lots—including more than 200 works on paper by Dufy, Jacques Villon, Jean Cocteau, Aristide Maillol, and Marcel Gromaire, as well as letters, books, decorative objects and furniture—which brought in a total of €1 million ($1.3 million). In this session, works on paper were again a highlight, especially those by Dufy, whose L’atelier et portrait de Madame Dufy, circa 1918, a rare recto-verso work, sold for €45,149 ($58,600) against an estimate of €15,000/20,000. The artist’s Étude pour la famille Kessler, 1932, sold for €33,997 ($44,200), also on an estimate of €15,000/20,000.
An ensemble of seven pencil drawings by Dufy sold for six times its estimate, bringing €22,844 ($29,650) against an estimate of €3,000/4,000. A lithograph by Dufy of a bather, estimated at €1,000/1,200, sold for €5,355 ($6,950). Profil d’Orphée Laure, 1959, a drawing by Cocteau, sold for €9,181 ($11,900) on an estimate of €3,000/4,000.
Work by Villon also met with success, including a 1932 Fauvist portrait of a man, which sold for €30,300 ($39,390) against a €15,000/20,000 estimate, and a 1958 Cubist oil painting sold for €31,500 ($40,950), just over its €20,000/30,000 estimate. Sculptures by Robert Couturier from the Oury collection were enthusiastically received: Le Couple, 1994, sold for €37,700 ($49,010) on a €10,000/15,000 estimate, and a 1952 sculpture of a woman drying her legs sold for €71,173 ($92,524) on an estimate of €25,000/35,000.
Oury’s mother, Marcelle Oury, an art critic and close friend of Dufy, was also a devoted collector; most of the works by the artist in the sale had been gifts to the family. The collection was exhibited by Oury’s daughter, Daniele Thompson, also a film director, at Artcurial the week before the auction to coincide with his 90th birthday. The show was seen by some 6,000 visitors.