$1.6 Billion Auction Week Underway with a Leading Leonardo

Vincent van Gogh's Laboruer dans un champ (1889)
Vincent van Gogh's Laboruer dans un champ (1889)
(Christie's)
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, oil on panel.  25 7/8 x 18 in.  (65.7 x 45.7 cm.)

    Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, oil on panel. 25 7/8 x 18 in. (65.7 x 45.7 cm.)

    Christie's

New York's auction gigaweek has begun with several marquee lots in this anticipated annual series. Much talked about so far have been the auctions lots that were not offered, and the superstar---a Jesus Christ painting by Leonardo da Vinci---in the Wednesday evening sale at Christie's.

Sales of impressionist, modern and contemporary art at Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips this week are expected to total at least $1.6 billion.

The sudden withdrawal of Berkshire Museum's Norman Rockwells and other American artworks from Sotheby's sale on Monday kicked off the week, and midweek Leonardo's 'Salvator Mundi' hits the auction block, with record-shaking expectations. The estimated $100 million Old Master is headlining a contemporary art sale.

"Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries," said Loic Gouzer, Christie's Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York. "We felt that offering this painting within the context of our Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale is a testament to the enduring relevance of this picture.”

A top lot at Christie's on Monday was Vincent van Gogh's, "Laboureur dans un champ," a sunlit scene with a ploughman, that fetched $81.3 million, just shy of the artist's record. It was one of several stellar lots from the collection of Texans Nancy Lee and Perry Bass.

An artist record was made in that unexpectedly robust $479.3 million sale with "Contraste de formes," a 1913 Fernand Leger abstract that went to $70 million. Rene Magritte's "L'empire des lumieres" -- a nocturnal bourgeois street scene -- also reached an artist record price at $20.56 million.

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