The 2018 year in sales, fortified investors from Asia as a powerhouse; their strength and buying
power exalting them to the haute tier in the auction world, by not only securing major sales in New York but by also showing their buying power in the sales in Hong Kong and Beijing markets.
Collectors battled over furniture and paintings from the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller which turned over $832.6 million – the most for any estate.
While 2018 may not have seen the same record-breaking numbers in art sales as years past Leonardo da Vinci Salvator Mundi sold for $450.3 million in 2017, last year’s sales still show a vigorous market for
Artist/Producer/Mogul Diddy made history spending $21.1 million on Kerry James Marshall’s
“Past Times” making him the most expensive living black artist.
Jenny Saville became the most expensive living female artist when her work sold for $12.4 million proving that some of the biggest stars can be found in the most obscure places.
Those are the seven most expensive paintings sold in 2018:
Amedeo Modigliani, Nu Couché ( Sur Le Côté Gauche), 1917
Sotheby’s New York, May 14 2018 ($157,159,000)
While Asian collectors failed to substantiate the work, as it could not obtain a higher bidder in
the salesroom or on the phones; the Modigliani still sold at a staggering price setting another
record for the Sotheby’s house in London. The coveted reclining nudes of Modigliani’s rarely
come to auction; Sotheby’s auction house cosigned with John Magnier, heralding it as the
largest pre-sale estimate in auction history at $150 Million. The Modigliani was subsequently
the most expensive thing sold at Sotheby’s when it went decisively to the pre-sale bidder.
Pablo Picasso, Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie, 1905
Christie’s New York, May 8, 2018 ($115,000,000)
The rare Pablo Picasso masterpiece which carried a $100 million estimate price; with extreme prestige having been purchased from the Gertrude Stein estate from David Rockefeller it was well within reason. Perhaps it was the contents of the painting itself, an indelicate subject for some bidders, consequently making the potential pool of collectors and buyers limited.
During “the sale of the century” there was one lone bidder on the telephone for the piece, from post-war and contemporary head Loïc Gouzer, purchased at $102 million, $115 with fees.
Revealed by the New York Times, it was purchased by the Nahmad Family, and the prominent dealer-collectors loaned the work to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to be shown on exhibition this fall.
Edward Hopper, Chop Suey, 1929
Christies New York, November 13, 2018 ( $91,875,000)
Many believed the exemplary work would most likely make its way to no less than $100 million but the instantly recognizable masterpiece by Edward Hopper – Chop Suey was estimated to sell for $70 million. It later sold for drastically higher than the estimated price with copious amounts of fanfare – bidders watched the animated back – and – forth between Eric Widing, the Christie specialist who worked diligently with Barney Ebsworth to build his collection and Gouzer.
When the final hammer fell, it was Gouzer who won the lot at $85 million.
David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist ( Pool with Two Figures), 1972
Christie’s New York, November 15, 2018 ($90,312,000)
With an opening of $18 million from Jussi Pylkkänen creating a rush of bidding on the phone and in the salesroom. The battle continued between four Christie’s specialist before the hammer fell at $80 million the exact pre-sale estimate to Marc Porter. With fees, the final price was $90.3 million, crowning Hockney the world’s most expensive living artist.
Kasimir Malevich Suprematist Composition, 1916
Christie’s New York, May 15, 2018 ( $85,812,500)
Purchased at Christie’s by Brett Gorvy the house’s former post-war chairman and present co-owner of Lévy Gorvy. The Russian masterpiece sold for $76 million – $85.8 with buyer’s fees.
This rare piece from Russian artist Kasimir Malevich may only measure 2 feet by 3 feet, but it boasts a lofty price per square inch – $99,320. The price coming in at over $70 million sets a new record for the Russian artist.
Claude Monet, Nymphéas en fleur, ca. 1914-17.
Christie’s New York, May 8, 2018 ($84,617,500)
Claude Monet has captivated the Asian market in recent years, with the addition of the
Rockefeller origin esteem helped convince one buyer from the region to break the artist’s
record last May. Estimated at $50 million, Nymphéas en fleur overshadowed that when Xin Li
Cohen out-bid her fellow Christie’s special and won the lot at $75 million.
Henri Matisse, Odalisque couchée aux magnolias, 1923
Christie’s New York, May 8, 2018 ($80,750,000)
With another record-setting sale from the Rockefeller collection – the Matisse was also relinquished to
Xi Li Choen on behalf of a phone bidder.
The hammer fell on $71.5 million, just over the estimate of $70 million as Cohen outbid Gouzer to again give the victory to an Asian collector.