PARIS—The modern art collection of Belgian designers Guy & Chantal Heytens took €2.4 million ($2.9 million) at Artcurial in Paris on Oct. 18.
With 150 clients in the saleroom and 140 bidders involved through commission bids or phone, auctioneer François Tajan—in charge of his first sale at Artcurial since moving from Paris rival Tajan SA—declared the evening a “great success” that reflected the “joyous, playful nature of the collection.”
The Monaco-based couple were selling “for personal reasons,” according to Tajan. The trade had trouble staying the pace as the 208-lot collection—heavy on paintings and drawings but also including sculpture, prints and illustrated books—was 83 percent sold by lot.
The top price of €166,180 ($199,400), more than double the high estimate of €70,000, was paid by a French collector for Léopold Survage’s Nice. Dating from circa 1916, this was the earliest of 11 works by Survage on offer; fueled by keen Russian interest, ten of them found buyers, with three works from the mid-1920s also tripling estimate. The second-top price for Survage, though, went to a much later work: €51,540 ($61,850), for his large 1944 Le soleil.
Another high price was the double-estimate €162,750 ($195,300) paid by a private buyer for Albert Gleizes’ Cavalaire ou le village, ca. 1922, which Tajan termed an “outstanding synthesis” of figurative and Cubist styles. Other popular works with a Cubist flavor: Georges Valmier’s 1924 gouache-on-paper La leçon de piano, which fetched €20,860 ($25,000); and an undated, paint-on-glass Composition, by Louis Marcoussis (1878-1941), which made €23,320 ($28,000).
Helped by its modest €40,000/60,000 estimate, Robert Rauschenberg’s 1988 steel-and-acrylic China Proverb fell to an American collector against French underbidding for €104,320 ($125,200). Additional American bidding lifted Wayne Thiebaud’s Hill Street, a 1987 colored wood engraving (numbered 42/200), to €9,200 ($1,100); and took a Sam Francis colored lithograph, The White Line, 1960 (numbered 26/75), to €20,250 ($24,300).
Jean Hélion was the most-featured artist in the collection, with 27 works; 19 sold, mainly to French collectors ahead of Swiss and Italian bidders, with a top price of €42,950 ($51,540) for a large 1981 acrylic, Le duel du peintre et de son reflet. But only four of 11 works by Louis Hayet found takers; in the lead was a 1923 Paysage at €4,665 ($5,560), just short of the low €5,000 estimate.
Maurice Utrillo’s small Moulin de la galette à Montmartre, ca.1940, brought an expected €67,500 ($81,000), but his earlier Rue à Montmartre, ca. 1914 (estimate: €100,000/120,000), went unsold, as did Odilon Redon’s La prédication (The Sermon), ca. 1905 (estimate: E60,000/80,000). Tajan said both works were a “bit austere” when compared to the rest of the sale offerings.