May Auction Sales Set to Soar or Simmer?

  • Paul Cezanne, Joueur de cartes, watercolor on laid paper, 18 5/8 x 12 in.  (46.7 x 30.5 cm.) Painted in 1892-1896.

    Paul Cezanne, Joueur de cartes, watercolor on laid paper, 18 5/8 x 12 in. (46.7 x 30.5 cm.) Painted in 1892-1896.


As May draws closer, media reports surrounding the first round of major modern and contemporary art sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s are focusing on whether the top lots will push the auction market to new levels.

So-called blockbuster artworks are grabbing headlines, with Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” which some expect to exceed its $80 million estimate to bring an all-time record price for an artwork, leading Sotheby’s Impressionism and Modern sale. A rediscovered Cézanne watercolor is featured at Christie’s.

Perhaps eclipsed by the Munch and Cezanne are stunning works on offer by Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, as well as paintings by Picasso, Leger, Gauguin, and several Gerhard Richters. 

Forbes columnist Abigail Esman speculates on whether the reality will live up to all the hype, and whether or not the competition might work against the art market.

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