PARIS—The Alexandre and Odile Loewy Collection of modern art, which was sold on March 24 at Sotheby’s in Paris, brought in a total of E3.2million ($4.2million), with 19, or 90.5 percent, of the 21 lots sold and a remarkable 99.5 percent sell-through rate by value.
The small but carefully curated selection of modern works of art came from the private collection of a Paris bookseller and his wife, whose renowned gallery on the Left Bank specialized in illustrated artist’s books. Many of the lots on offer were works on paper, and ones by Pablo Picasso dominated the sale. The top lot of the night was a portrait on paper, one of Picasso’s first drawings of his lover and muse Françoise Gilot. After energetic competition among twelve bidders, the gouache, ink and wash drawing Portrait de femme, 1945, tripled its estimate of E250,000/350,000 to sell for E1.1million ($1.5million), accounting for roughly a third of the sale’s overall total.
Other works by Picasso included the gouache drawing Nature morte devant une fenêtre ouverte, 1919, which sold for E480,750 ($644,311) on a E300,000/500,000 estimate, an auction record for a drawing from that series. A rare love letter dating from 1916 and addressed to Irène Lagut, incorporating two original drawings, sold for E384,750 ($515,650) on an estimate of E150,000/200,000. A 1932 watercolor depicting Marie-Thérèse Walter in profile sold for E75,150 ($100,718), near the top of its E60,000/80,000 estimate.
The sale also featured three drawings by Henri Matisse. One, a 1945 portrait of Lydia Delectorskaya in pencil, sold for E108,750 ($145,750) on an estimate of E40,000/60,000. Another pencil portrait of Delectorskaya, from 1948, sold for E94,350 ($126,450) against an estimate of E40,000/60,000. And a still life with flowers in ink on paper, estimated at E80,000/120,000, sold for E120,750 ($161,832).
Other top sellers included Le village en hiver, ca. 1930, a gouache on cardboard by Marc Chagall estimated at E200,000/300,000, which sold for E432,750 ($579,980), and Composition/Le Couple, 1935, a two-sided drawing in gouache, ink and pencil by Fernand Léger, which sold for E75,150 ($100,718) against an estimate of E25,000/35,000. Two sculptures by Henri Laurens sold well: Torse, 1925, a red terra-cotta piece from an edition of seven, sold for E60,750 ($81,418) against an estimate of E50,000/70,000. Femme nue à la mandoline, 1922, a white terra-cotta sculpture from an edition of 11, sold for E45,150 ($60,500), at the top of the estimate of E35,000/45,000.