Next week sees the start of one of the largest auction series I have ever encountered, with four major single owner collections coming up for auction in New York from 9th-20th May. The staggering array of work on offer is extraordinary though some of the estimate ranges indicate that there might be better deals in the gallery world than at auction – a real role reversal caused by buyer’s premiums that just keep on rising.
Christie’s are first with three, yes three, major single owner sales. The Anne H. Bass Collection is small but perfectly formed and includes three sensational Monets and two jaw-dropping, deep red, Rothkos. The Degas Dancer promises to be quite a triumph as I have not seen one at auction since 2015 – when that example fetched 25m USD. I think this collection of 12 works, save the Balthus pictures, will garner (albeit relatively) the biggest results of the entire season.
The sale of the collection of Thomas and Doris Amman will be a highlight but it is an auction of mixed quality: ranging from the sublime, Warhol’s ‘Marilyn’, to Mike Bidlo. Indeed, perhaps the most talked about picture in the series is the Warhol, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn. To have a painting priced at 200m USD at auction is quite a gutsy play and I hope that the house secure a guarantee given the geo-political strife that enwraps the world at present. The other single owner collection may well be my favourite: the Jacobs wonderful Surrealist collection including a gorgeous Magritte and plenty of top works by Man Ray, Ernst and a well-priced Tanguy too.
Over at Sotheby’s much rests on the powerful second half of the Macklowe collection which saw its greatest pieces auctioned to great success in November 2021. Nonetheless there are some big guns up for grabs with a superb dark Rothko, a stunning Richter Seascape and a really wonderful Agnes Martin (with the gorgeous title ‘Early Morning Happiness’)! Individually Sotheby’s have a rich array of top-end firecrackers including a very rare Venice scene by Monet which I think should fetch 50m USD, a superb 1930s Picasso and a top Francis Bacon: ‘Study of Red Pope’.
For once it might just be that the biggest surprise of the week comes from Phillips auction house with the sale of the Basquiat, Untitled, of 1982. Bought in 2016 by a Japanese private collector (Mr Maezawa) he paid a vast sum at the time and with it being offered at 70m USD it will be very interesting to see how much over his 57m USD outlay he can make. What we can say is that the market for top works of art has never been this strong. Inflation in all areas has only acted as kindling to an otherwise fiery art market.
The sales and their site links are as follows:
Please, do use an advisor when buying high value works of art – the pitfalls of buying at auction are multiple and various. I am in New York from Monday 9th and would be delighted to help with any reports or bidding advice if needed.