NEW YORK—Russian artist Natalia Goncharova’s undated Still Life with Flowers and Grapes was the top lot at Leslie Hindman’s May 15–16 sale of American and European fine art in?Chicago, earning $79,300 with buyer’s premium, well ahead of the $4,000/6,000 estimate. The preceding lot—Goncharova’s Two Spaniards (estimate: $5,000/7,000)—also had performed better than expected, earning $25,620.
Overall, 459, or 78 percent, of the 588 lots were sold, earning $2.7 million and falling within the $2 million/3.9 million estimate.
Several lots helped tip the scales up. Cuban artist Luis Martinez-Pedro’s 1958 oil on canvas Composition No. 16 had a modest $1,000/2,000 estimate but earned $34,160, while Greek painter Yannis Gaitis’s Milopata, 1964, brought $51,240 (estimate: $25,000/35,000).
Roger Brown’s Palenque with Early Risers (estimate: $25,000/35,000) brought $46,360, and Andy Warhol’s 1968 suite of 11 color screenprints, entitled Flash—November 22, 1963, 1968, (estimate: $25,000/35,000) earned $43,920. Eric Fischl’s untitled oil-on-paper study of two figures, 1993 (estimate: $8,000/12,000), earned $17,080, and an untitled seven-inch-high bronze statue by Willem de Kooning (estimate: $8,000/10,000) sold for $18,300. A 1950–51 lithograph study by Henri Matisse, Madeleine, sold for $10,370 (estimate: $3,000/5,000).
Other lots that fell within or near estimates included work by British artist Sir Terry Frost, whose oil abstract Orange and Blue Upright, 1960, sold for $67,100 compared with an estimate of $40,000/60,000, and Scottish painter Craigie Aitchison’s Donkey Under Tree, 1976, which sold for $61,000, compared with an estimate of $40,000/60,000; his Black Faced Sheep, 1976, fetched $41,480, against an estimate of $30,000/50,000.
“This has been the best spring we’ve ever had,” auctioneer Leslie Hindman told ARTnewsletter. “Our Asian sale,” which took place on May 3, “brought in $4.5 million, and we thought it was only going to bring maybe $1 million.” She credited the success of that sale, as well as the more recent American and European art auction, to the economic recovery and the “global market. We’re selling to people all over the world.” In addition to telephone bidding, Hindman noted that more than 650 prospective buyers were bidding online. All that action is increasing competition, she says, which drives up prices.
The Luis Martinez-Pedro painting, for instance, had 14 telephone bidders, including several from Cuba—the work eventually went to a U.S. collector—and all the interest generated a new auction record for the artist, whose previous high was $4,800 for a 1946 gouache on board (estimate $3,000/4,000) at Sotheby’s in 2006.