Sotheby's Sale Nets $422 Million

New York City -- Alberto Giacometti’s “Chariot” sculpture sold for $101 million, leading Sotheby’s record $422 million Impressionist and modern art sale in New York.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social negus network attended last night's event -- the most profitable art auction in history.

The 4.75-foot-tall painted bronze figure on wheels met its $100 million estimate yesterday at the evening auction but didn’t set a new artist record. Sotheby’s total exceeded its high estimate of $300 million.

Last night’s total was 45.4 percent higher than last November’s $290.2 million tally. Of the 73 lots offered, 58 found buyers. Final prices include commissions.

Sotheby’s kicked off a two-week auction season in Manhattan, where art valued at about $1.8 billion is for sale at three auction houses.

Collector Jim Grecco, who purchased a painting of clowns and horses by Fernand Leger for $5.9 million. “As for the Leger, it will fit well in my collection," he remarked.

The packed salesroom included J. Tomilson Hill, vice chairman at private-equity firm Blackstone Group, who bought a Pablo Picasso painting, “La Femme a la Collerette,” for $1.9 million. Bidders from 40 countries competed for the works, Sotheby’s said.

Amedeo Modigliani’s sculpture of a goddess’s head sold for $70.7 million, setting an auction record for the artist.

The 2.4-foot high sculpture, created in 1911-1912 from limestone the artist took from a Parisian subway renovation, sailed past its high estimate of $45 million.

The artist’s previous auction record was $69 million for the 1917 painting “Nu Assis Sur un Divan (La Belle Romaine),” which sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 2010.

Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of a bouquet of white, red and blue wildflowers sold for $61.8 million against an estimate of $30 million to $50 million. “Still Life, Vase With Daisies and Poppies,” is an auction record for a still life painting for the artist. It was purchased by a private Asian bidder.

The auction record for a Van Gogh painting was set nearly 25 years ago, when “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” sold for $82.5 million (about $150 million adjusted for inflation).

The price of “Chariot” didn’t break Giacometti’s auction record, which was set by “Walking Man,” a bronze sculpture that sold for $103.4 million in 2010 at Sotheby’s in London.

Monet’s Garden

Claude Monet’s 1881 “Alice Hoschede au Jardin,” which was estimated to sell for $25 million to $35 million, sold for $33.8 million. The work, which was last seen at auction in 1989, is a portrait of Monet’s lover Alice Hoschede, who was also the wife of one of his most important patrons.

Eight lots, including the Giacometti and the Modigliani sculptures, had guarantees, in which the auction house or a third party agrees to buy the artwork at a fixed price before the sale. If the work sells for more than that amount, the guarantor receives a percentage of the sale.

Auction houses use guarantees to woo consignors with the assurance that the work will sell for an acceptable sum.

Two out of the three lots that sold for more than $60 million -- the Van Gogh still life and Giacometti’s “Chariot” -- each had a guarantee.

“It’s the highest total for any auction ever held at Sotheby’s,” Simon Shaw, co-head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art department worldwide, said after the sale.

Picasso’s Works

The 15 works by Picasso spanning more than six decades of his career had mixed results. “Femme Allongee,” an abstract of a reclining woman, estimated at $2 million to $3 million, sold for $6 million. His “Bouffon et Jeune Acrobate,” an early work from 1905 of a boy sitting on a clown’s lap, estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million, also sold for $6 million.

Picasso’s almost monochromatic oil painting of a woman in religious contemplation, “La Communiante Avec Missel,” valued at $1.2 million to $1.8 million, failed to find a buyer. “Homme Assis,” a 4.25-foot tall work from 1969 that sold for $11.4 million, was painted at the end of Picasso’s career. An abstract portrait of a musketeer, the canvas is bright red, green and yellow set against a beige background. The work was valued at $8 million to $12 million.

Christie’s is set to auction 40 lots of Impressionist and modern art tonight that is estimated at only $110 million.