A work by Juan Gris catapulted to nearly three-times its estimate to fetch $56.8 million at Christie's in London on Tuesday. The price sets a new level for the Spanish painter in a sale marked with enthusiasm for "fresh to market" lots. The sale total of $288 million did not include 24 lots from a collection of Joan Miró works that were pulled just hours before going under the gavel.
Christie's withdrew the 85-piece collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures and collages, catalogued as “Miro: Seven Decades in His Art” and consigned by the Portugeuse Republic, over legal disputes.
Protestors in Portugal called to halt the sale of the Miros, valued at about $49 million in total. Government offcials wanted sale proceeds to help alleviate Portugal's more than €200 billion in debt. The artworks became state property after a failing bank, Banco Português de Negócios, was nationalized in 2008.
Even with the withdrawal of the Mirós (24 of which had been slated for Tuesday), the sale came to $288 million, within its pre-sale estimate of $223 million to $324 million. Christie's said in a statement that the results "represent the highest total for a sale held in London in any category."
The record-setting Juan Gris (1887-1927) painting, Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, 1915, was one of the "fresh" works to come from a private Swiss collection, formed between the 1920s and 1970s. The artist's previous record was $28.6 million set in 2010 for a still-life with guitar and violin.
On Feb. 5, "Asian Private" buyer(s) acquired four of the top ten lots in Christie's Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper sale. The sale brought a total £ 5,392,100 /$8,789,123 with 69 of 84 lots sold.
The Impresisonist Modern Day Sale brought a total £11,998,700/$19,557,8881 with a tie at $1,079,875 for the top lot ranking: Kurt Schwitters's (1887-1948), Das Schwert des deutschen Geistes, 1935, and Pablo Picasso's (1881-1973), Grand vase aux femmes voiles, 1950.