LONDON—Success at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art sale, on June 19, accrued mainly from 19 lots, described as “property from an American private collection,” which were sent for sale by Marvin Schein. The Long Island, N.Y., collector had advertised many of the works on a gallery Website under his name before consigning them to Sotheby’s with a guarantee and a combined low estimate of £35.3 million ($65.3 million). Sixteen of the works sold for a combined total of £55 million ($101.7 million), providing Sotheby’s with seven of its ten top-selling lots. Three works were bought in.
The top three lots from Schein were paintings by Amedeo Modigliani, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, respectively. Modigliani’s Jeanne Hébuterne (au chapeau), 1919 (estimate: £8.5/12 million), a portrait of the artist’s muse and mistress that Schein had purchased in 1997 for $9.6 million, now fetched £16.4 million ($30.2 million).
New York dealer Jeffrey Deitch bid on the painting to a figure just above its high estimate before two phone bidders took over. The winning bid, the second-highest for a Modigliani, was taken by Sotheby’s North American senior specialist Stephane Connery from an unidentified phone buyer.
A Degas pastel, La sortie du bain, circa 1895 (estimate: £4.5/6.5 million), went to a private European collector, bidding against New York dealers Eykyn Maclean, for £6.7 million ($12.4 million). And Renoir’s Femmes dans un jardin, 1873 (estimate: £4/6 million), purchased in 2000 for $6.7 million, took £4.9 million ($9.1 million) from a private collector, bidding against Acquavella Galleries, New York.
Among the other top-selling lots was Pablo Picasso’s Le peintre et son modèle, 1963 (estimate: £5/7 million), which fell to the Nahmad family of art dealers for £7.4 million ($13.6 million), bidding against dealer Jan Krugier of Geneva and New York. The price is the highest to date for a late Picasso, of which there was a plentiful supply.
Lyonel Feininger’s Angler with Blue Fish II, 1912 (estimate: £1.8/2.5 million), brought a record £4.2 million ($7.6 million) from an anonymous bidder on the phone. The same buyer also acquired Pierre Bonnard’s Place Clichy, 1906-07 (estimate: £2.5/3.5 million), from the Schein consignment, for £4.1 million ($7.6 million); and Picasso’s early Les courses à Auteuil, 1901 (estimate: £1.8/2.5 million), also from the Schein consignment, for £2.6 million ($4.7 million).
Sitting in the front row, the Nahmad family bid on several works, apart from the top-selling late Picasso from the Schein consignment. They underbid on Camille Pissarro’s Le jardin d’Éragny, circa 1895 (estimate: £600,000/ 800,000), which went to a phone bidder for £523,200 ($962,688); and Bonnard’s Après le déjeuner, ca. 1920 (estimate: £2/3 million), which fetched £1.46 million or $2.7 million. Bidding below estimate again, the Nahmads snagged Pissarro’s Paysage avec Maisons . . ., 1892 (estimate: £350,000/ 450,000), for £288,000 ($529,920).
Other buyers in the room: New York dealer Nancy Whyte, who bought Alberto Giacometti’s bronze La cage (estimate: £750,000/1 million), conceived in 1950 but cast at a later date, for £1.35 million ($2.5 million); and Citibank Art Advisory Service, which bought Claude Monet’s L’arbre en Boule, Argenteuil, 1876 (estimate: £1.5/2 million), for £2.2 million ($4.1 million).
Of the 56 lots offered, 48, or 85.7 percent, found buyers. Of these, 44 percent were from the U.S.; 23 percent, Europe, 14 percent, Russia; 11 percent, the U.K.; and 8 percent, Asia.