Auction Analysis - London Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sales - Christie’s and Sotheby’s Shoot-out | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Auction Analysis - London Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sales - Christie’s and Sotheby’s Shoot-out

Impressionist and Modern auctions in London down by 12.3 percent from last year
The Impressionist and Modern Art sales in London in February 2018 at Christie’s and Sotheby’s combined raised a total of £232,977,000 (incl. buyer’s premium), against a total pre-sale estimate of £149,180,000-£214,750,000. The combined total of Christie’s and Sotheby’s was 12.3 percent lower than in February 2017.
The London February sales was started by Christie’s by offering 65 lots (sold 51 lots) and achieved a total of £114,103,000 (incl. buyer’s premium)/£99.1 million (excl. buyer’s premium). This result came just within the pre-sale estimate range of £94.3 million-139.8 million but nonetheless was up 21 percent on the same sale last year.
Sotheby’s evening sale the following night achieved a total of £118,932,000 (incl. buyer’s premium)/ £105 million (excl. buyer’s premium) with a sale of 18 lots. While the total sale surpassed the pre-sale estimate range of £48.2 million-£65.5 million, the auction result showed a substantial decrease of 30.6 percent on last year’s result.
At Christie’s, lots selling for between £1 million and £10 million accounted for over 74 percent of total sales, and there was only one artwork by Pablo Picasso “Mousquetaire Et Nu Assis” that sold £13.7 milion that accounted for 12 percent of the total sales.  While at Sotheby’s, the top three artworks by Pablo Picasso and Andre Derain  accounted for 65 percent of the total sales. Picasso’s “Femme Au Beret Et A La Robe Quadrillee (Marie-Therese Walter)” that sold for £49.8 million at Sotheby’s sale was the highest-selling work of this whole season. The painting fetched a hammer price of £44 million. While the work was listed as estimte upon request by Sotheby’s but reports put it be in excess of £36 million. Picasso’s “Le Matador” at £16.5 million and Andre Derain’s “Bateaux A Collioure” were the other top artworks of Sotheby’s sale. In summary, the three highest-selling works in this round of sales were all paintings by Picasso.
Estimation Accuracy
The number of lots on offer at Christie’s (65) was far higher in this sale than in Sotheby’s (26). If we analyze the estimation accuracy of sold lots, at Christie’s the percentage of artworks that sold for more than the high estimate (41.2 percent) was higher than the same at Sotheby’s (22.2 percent). On the other hand, percentage of lots that sold for less than the low estimate was higher at Sotheby’s (28 percent) than Christie’s (20 percent).
Top Lots Sold in the Auctions
The top 10 lots sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s with their hammer prices are shown in the graphs below.

Comparing London Impressionist & Modern Evening Sales Christie’s and Sotheby’s (GBP millions)
A comparison of total sales at both the auction houses since 2012 and the trend of average sale price are shown below.
As it can be seen, the average sales price at Sotheby’s has shown a remarkable increase which goes to show that the superstar sales (high-selling artworks) are being more often recorded here than in Christie’s.  Average sale price Sotheby’s has outdone Christie’s in the last four years.
A Comparative Performance of February 2018 Sales
A comparative performance of both auction houses in the recently concluded Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sales is shown below. This includes the total sale value, value excluding premium (total hammer price), average sale value (excl. premium), estimated high, estimated low, total lots sold and unsold.
London Impressionist and Modern Evening Sales: Relative Share of Christie’s and Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s share of market has always been greater than Christie’s in this segment as it can be seen below.
Watch out for the comparative analysis of Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the Post War and Contemporary Art segment coming up next….
Top auction results for Pablo Picasso