Amidst the political and economic turbulence of the last few months, it will be fascinating to see how the sales fare in New York this week and next.  I am about to head off for the various-owner sale previews on Friday, timorously confident that the market will hold its course. The year to date has been strong with most buyers keen to acquire tangible assets before hideous inflation numbers rot away everyone’s net wealth.

The sales this term are vast due to the decision of the Paul G Allen estate to offer two sale’s worth of the very finest works of art I can recall coming up for auction (I seem to write that sentence every November … which can only be a good thing!?). I will come to the calibre of the sales shortly, but it is vital to bear in mind that the best barometer of the art market is, in fact, the Day Sales at the major houses. It is tempting to focus on the gazillionaire ‘Paul Allen-type’ paintings but to overlook the market in general. Day sales are the coalfaces of the art business and show the depth of the buying pool for the middle market – they are also fruitful. Pictures in the sub 500k USD range are what ‘feed’ the auction houses and pay the wages. Most of the top works (5m USD plus) are either loss-making or inefficient in their fees with countless expensive marketing prerogatives. It would be fascinating to know the status of the terms for the Allen sales as I expect the deal was very, very dear. That said, the two auctions are outstanding and will garner some extraordinary prices.

To focus on the top works in the evening sale it is hard to imagine a more important Post-Impressionist Painting for sale than the Poseuses by Georges Seurat. It is small masterpiece and a study for the famous work in the Barnes Collection, Philadelphia. It is expected to make 100m USD and with a guarantee (like all the others) it might make more. Paul Cezanne’s Mont Ste.-Victoire is one of those classic, iconic, subjects that one feels belongs in the Hermitage or the Met. It is such a superb picture, at the very start of a new language of painting, that I cannot see it selling for less than 120m USD. Yet these two works are merely two from a sale of 60 lots that beggar beleief. Manet, Kandinsky, Freud… every big name of classic 19th / 20th C. oil painting is represented in the collection. Oh, there is also a Botticelli masterpiece at 40m USD! I would highly recommend a glance through the sales series below – it may be the last 1 billion USD sale we will see in a while!

Christie’s various-owner sales have some stellar moments too with a gorgeous Magritte L’autre son de cloche (previously in the Mellon collection), a very good de Kooning abstract from 1978, Matisse’s Collioure en aout of 1911 (perhaps a few years too late but great anyway) and a belting Caillebotte Jardiniers which is compositional perfection.

The Sotheby’s sales do not harbour the same kinds of wonders as the Allen Sale but it is a very strong gathering nonetheless with the David M. Solinger collection forming the backbone of the series. Great ‘Art Brut’ Dubuffet, a jaw dropping de Kooning and my favourite Picasso of the season – a 1927 Femme dans un fauteuil are just some of the crackers. Perhaps the most important, in both value and esteem, of the Sotheby’s offerings is the Car Crash series’ White Disaster by Andy Warhol being offered for a price of 80m USD. Created inn 1963 this is the absolute top gun of the Warhol metier. Part realism, part POP, part shock it is a picture of real urgency and staggering controversy given its date. I expect it to be one of the real megatrons of this November’s crop.

The sale links are listed below so do take a look and, as ever, please do use an advisor and don’t get caught out by failing to get advice. We are always happy to help!

Wednesday 9th November 2022 (All times EST)

Christie’s: ‘Visionary’: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I at 1900


Thursday 10th November

Christie’s: ‘Visionary’: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part II at 1000am


Monday 14th November

Sotheby’s: Solinger Collection at 1730


Sotheby’s: Modern Evening Auction at 1830

Tuesday 15th November

Sotheby’s: Modern Day Auction at 0930

Phillips: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale at 1800

Wednesday 16th November 

Phillips: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session at 1000am


Phillips: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session at 1400

Sotheby’s: The NOW Evening Auction at 1800


Sotheby’s: Contemporary Auction at 1900

Thursday 17th November

Sotheby’s: Contemporary Day Auction at 0930

Christie’s: 20th Century Evening Sale at 1730


Christie’s: 21st Century Evening Sale at 2000pm


Friday 18th November

Christie’s: Post-War & Contemporary Day Sale at 1000am


Saturday 19th November

Christie’s: Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper Sale at 1000am


Christie’s: Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale at 1400