The annual spring hurricane of auctions made landfall in New York on last night with a double-header at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters. First up: the third dedicated sale of works from the S.I. Newhouse collection. Though the entire assemblage had been guaranteed by the house long ago (and a good portion of the risk was later offloaded to third parties, as you’ll see), the night began with a low thrum of nervous energy in the salesroom stemming from months of chatter about the potential of interest-rate hikes, stubbornly persistent inflation, and other macroeconomic weirdness to disrupt Gotham’s seasonal auction bonanza.
But the anxiety soon gave way to quiet confidence as bidding pushed the third frame of the Newhouse collection into respectable territory. Below, the story by the numbers…
S.I. Newhouse Evening Sale
- Total Sales After Fees: $178 million
- Lots Sold (Including Guaranteed Lots): 16
- Lots on Offer Before Withdrawals: 16
- Lots Withdrawn Presale: 0
- Lots Bought In: 0
- Sell-through Rate Counting Withdrawals: 100 percent
- Sell-through Rate Excluding Withdrawals: 100 percent
- Hammer Total: $150.5 million
- Presale Low Estimate Before Withdrawals: $142 million
- Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate: +$8.5 million
- Total Low Estimate of Withdrawn Lots: $0
- Total Low Estimate of Guaranteed Lots: $142 million (100 percent of total presale low estimate)
- Lots With House Guarantees: 16
- Total Low Estimate of Third-Party Guaranteed Lots: $133.7 million (94.2 percent of total presale low estimate)
- Lots with Third-Party Guarantees: 11
- Top seller: Francis Bacon’s Self-Portrait (1969), hammered at $29.8 million ($34.6 million after fees)
- Quote of the Night: “We saw 16 works across 100 years, so we all got to see the world through [Newhouse’s] eyes,” said Max Carter, Christie’s vice chairman of 20th and 21st century art.
Immediately following the Newhouse sale, Christie’s barreled into its 20th century evening session. Although the liveliness of the Newhouse sale had eased some of the aforementioned tension in the Rock, the tone seesawed back and forth throughout the night’s second event, as frenetic bidding for choice lots (including a coda from the Paul G. Allen collection) gave way to more business-like transactions and more than a couple significant passed lots (headlined by Picasso’s Femme assise au chapeau de paille (Marie-Thérèse) being bought in at $18.5 million, just beneath its $20 million low estimate).
Here’s how the data shook out…
20th-Century Evening Sale
- Total Sales After Fees: $328.8 million
- Lots sold (Including Guaranteed Lots): 44
- Lots on Offer Before Withdrawals: 57
- Lots Withdrawn Presale: 3
- Lots Bought In: 10
- Sell-through Rate Counting Withdrawals: 77.1 percent
- Sell-through Rate Excluding Withdrawals: 81.4 percent
- Hammer Total: $276.1 million
- Presale Low Estimate Before Withdrawals: $260 million
- Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate: +$16.1 million
- Total Low Estimate of Withdrawn Lots: $9.5 million
- Total Low Estimate of Guaranteed Lots: $176.6 million (67.9 percent of total presale low estimate)
- Lots With House Guarantees: 28
- Total Low Estimate of Third-Party Guaranteed Lots: $131.3 million (50.5 percent of total presale low estimate)
- Lots with Third-Party Guarantees: 14
- Top seller: Henri Rousseau’s Les Flamants (1969), hammered at $37.5 million ($43.5 million after fees)
- Lasting memory: Market watchers will remember this sale because Les Flamants went en fuego, resetting Rousseau’s auction high by nearly 10X after fees. His previous record was just $4.4 million, established in 1993—the last time we saw one of his extremely rare paintings cross the block prior to last night.
Next sale up: Christie’s 21st century evening sale on Monday, May 15.
Check back throughout the week for our continuing coverage of this spring’s sales slate.