PARIS—With Paris becoming a more attractive venue for selling contemporary art since the mid-year European Union capping of droit de suite (artists’ resale royalties) at €12,500 per lot, a trio of auction firms pulled well clear of the rest.
Christie’s consolidated its lead with sales of €186 million ($260.4 million); Artcurial maintained its claim to being the “premier French auction house” with a total of €125 million or $175 million (including sales at provincial subsidiaries in Deauville and Toulouse); and Sotheby’s, under new chairman Guillaume Cerutti (former managing director of the Georges Pompidou Center), enjoyed a 92 percent rise with sales posted at €119 million ($167 million).
Total sales at Hôtel Drouot remained stable at €500 million ($700 million). It was a lean season for Old Masters, traditionally a Drouot forte, with a modest top price of €436,000 ($646,200) for a Jean-Baptiste Berre look at L’eléphant du jardin du Roi, 1817, at Mathias-Le Roux on Nov. 28.
But thanks in large part to the blockbuster Persian art show at the Musée du Louvre, there was keen interest in Indian and Persian miniatures at Pescheteau-Badin on Dec. 12, when Ali Riza’s Pause de hookah, in gouache with gold highlights (circa 1650), soared to €264,700 ($387,400), more than ten times estimate.
Tajan, for many years France’s premier firm, slipped to the fourth spot in 2007. Sales fell 4 percent, to €69 million ($96.7 million), reflecting the lackluster performance of the house’s end-of-season, 20th-century art sales. The 209-lot auction of postwar art on Nov. 27-28 was just 46 percent sold by lot, yielding €2.47 million ($3.7 million). Then, on Dec. 11, Tajan’s 87-lot contemporary and modern art sale was just 40 percent sold by lot, with two works contributing more than half the auction total of €2.43 million ($3.6 million): Wassily Kandinsky’s 1931 oil-on-masonite Grün (Green), at €950,000 ($1.4 million); and a view by Albert Marquet (1875-1947) of La Giudecca in Venice, at €496,000 ($731,800).