Christie’s opened its London sales last night with an evening dedicated to Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist art. It was of particular interest for the works put on sale by the billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev (see Dmitry Rybolovlev Sells Works from Personal Collection). A few days earlier Bloomberg had revealed the inclusion of works bought by the Russian businessman from Yves Bouvier.

By the end of the evening, the sale had reached a total of £137 million, representing an increase of 45% on the same evening last year. 92% of the lots found buyers. These were reassuring figures following an especially difficult 2016 in sales rooms. In its press release, Christie’s noted the strong presence of Asian collectors, whose willing bids boosted the prices of the most expensive works.

Dmitri Rybolovlev

“Te Fare (La Maison)” (1892), Paul Gauguin © Christie’s

The most eagerly expected canvas was Paul Gauguin’s Te Fare, one of the works sold by Bouvier to Rybolovlev, which had an estimate of between £12 and 18 million. It was knocked down for £20.3 million to a collector from Asia. Bloomberg noted that Rybolovlev had paid 54 million euros for the painting in 2008, which represents a loss of 74%.

Joueur de flûte et femme nue also brought the Russian businessman a loss as this work by Picasso was sold for £4.6 million against an estimate of between 6.5 and 8.5 millions.

An Asian collector also bought Henri Matisse’s Young Girl with Anemones on a Purple Background for 8.4 million pounds.

Magritte, star of the sale

The highlights of the evening were unquestionably the sale of two paintings by Magritte, just a few weeks after the end of the retrospective devoted to the Surrealist artist at the Centre Pompidou. The first, The Domain of Arnheim, was another work from the collection of Dmitry Rybolovlev, for which he is said to have paid 43.5 million dollars. It exceeded its estimate of £8.5 million, reaching 10.2 millions.

Magritte Christie's record

René Magritte (1898-1967), Le domaine d’Arnheim (The Domain of Arnheim), 1938 © Christie’s

The other work by Magritte, La corde sensible, was sold for £14.4 million, representing a record for the artist at auction. As noted by Artnet, the painting had not been seen on the market since 1986. At that time, it was sold for 363,000 dollars.

Three canvases by Le Corbusier from the Heidi Weber Museum also enjoyed success in London. Still Life and Figure, estimated at £2.5 million, went for more than 4 millions.

Sales of Impressionist and modern art will continue at Sotheby’s this Wednesday, offering the chance to see if this positive trend will be sustained.

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