PARIS—On Dec. 8–9, Sotheby’s held a two-part sale of contemporary art from prestigious collections. The auction brought in a total of €10.6 million ($15.75 million), far above the overall high estimate of €8.4 million. A total of 98, or 88 percent, of the 112 lots on offer were sold.
The top two lots of the sale were works by French abstract painter Pierre Soulages, who is known for his thickly painted black canvases, and who turns 90 this month. His Peinture 195 x 130 cm, 27 février 1954, surpassed its estimate of €600,000/800,000, selling to a European collector for €888,750 ($1.3 million). Soulages’s Peinture 130 x 162 cm, 28 février 1970 also exceeded its estimate, of €300,000/400,000, to sell to a French collector for €720,750 ($1.1 million).
Other top lots included a painting by Jean Dubuffet, Le village fantasque, 1964, which sold for €624,750 ($927,067), more than twice its estimate of €200,000/300,000. An important 1954 still life of blue pears on a pink plate, Poires sur une assiette rose, 1954, by Nicolas de Staël sold for €384,750 ($570,931) on an estimate of €300,000/400,000.
Other strong sales included 19.12.66, by Zao Wou-Ki, an oil that fetched €384,750 ($565,580) against an estimate of €220,000/280,000. Works by Yves Klein also sold well, including F90, 1961, which sold for €504,750 ($749,000) just falling within the estimate of €500,000/700,000. Hachirotametomo Chinzei, 1962, an oil painting by Kazuo Shiraga, sold for €624,750 ($927,067) against a €200,000/300,000 estimate.
A new record was set for artist Günther Uecker when Energetic Bilds Feld (Energetic Picture Field), 1965, an oil on canvas laid down on board with nails, sold for €444,750 ($659,965), more than double its €120,000/180,000 estimate. Another of the auction’s top ten lots, Niki de Saint-Phalle’s Bathing Beauty (Sculpture-Fontaine), 1966, surpassed its €250,000/350,000 estimate to sell for €360,750 ($535,317).
The auction featured works by Andy Warhol from the Pierre Leroy Collection, including a 1976 portrait of Jamie Wyeth, which fetched €114,750 ($169,830) on a €100,000/150,000 estimate, and a 1967 portrait of Roy Lichtenstein, estimated at €30,000/40,000, which sold for €102,750 ($152,070).
Elephant (Purple), 1999, a mirror work by Jeff Koons donated by the artist to benefit the Claude Pompidou Foundation, was sold for €400,000 ($593,560), helping to finance the construction of a hospital in the south of France that will serve as a research center for Alzheimer’s disease (estimate: €300,000/400,000).
Works by Georges Mathieu, Alexander Calder and Peter Doig also did well. In the day session, Composition, 1977, an abstract work by the late French painter Jean-Pierre Pincemin estimated at €7,000/9,000, sold for the far higher price of €67,950 ($99,900).