Delvaux, Rufino Lead Sotheby’s $16.7 M. Modern Day Sale, Market Test Begins

Paul Delvaux, L’impératrice. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

This report on the Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Day sale for June 2020 by Angelica Villa is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.) 

On Monday, Sotheby’s staged the first leg of its marquee 20th century art auctions with its Impressionist and Modern art day sale in New York ahead of the auction houses’ first fully remote evening sale. The day auction brought in $16.7 million from the sale of 166 lots. A solid 83 percent sell-through rate and active virtual bidding allowed the results to come in almost exactly in line with the May 2019 day sale which reached $16.6 million from 229 lots.

Leading the auction was Belgian surrealist Paul Delvaux’s 1974 oil on panel L’imperatrice depicting an off-centered white cloaked female figure against a moon-lit background in a surrealist landscape. It sold for $1.16 million or slightly below its pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million (when the buyer’s premium is accounted for) to an online bidder after seven bids. Two advance bids came in before the lot went up for sale. The work has only changed hands twice before. It was purchased by the seller in a Christie’s London sale in December 1997 for £221,500, where it appeared from a private Belgium collection. It was widely exhibited throughout Japan in the 1980s.


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