Here Are the 15 Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction Around the World in July 2023

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Even as China’s economy wobbles and even flirts with deflation, nearly half of the most-expensive lots sold at auction last month around the world came out of China.

The majority of the top sales in July traded via the Poly International Auction Company in Beijing, with the remainder split between the London Old Masters sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. While none of the three sales are marquee auctions, they stood out in the waning days of summer—a traditionally sleepy season for the art market. Still, there were a few surprises, and lots of money changed hands.

Poly’s Works on Paper sale on July 5 saw impressive figures for early 14th and 15th century works, including an unexpected price for a 16th century work by Chen Chun, which fetched more than double its presale high estimate of CNY 15 million ($1.6 million) to achieve CNY 35 million ($4.8 million).

At Christie’s, the Flemish baroque painter Michael Sweerts’s canvas also fetched well over its high estimate of £3 million ($3.8 million) to bring in £12.6 million ($16.04 million). Sweerts’s result edged out one of Artnet’s most bankable artists, the ever-popular Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, whose pair of 17th century portraits hit the auction block at Christie’s this spring, some 199 years after they were first sold by the house. Believed to be the last-known portraits by the artist still in private hands, the depictions of two of the artist’s acquaintances, Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels, were rediscovered during a routine evaluation by Christie’s specialist Henry Pettifer in what he called “one of the most exciting discoveries” made in the Old Masters field in some time. These works also performed well against their presale estimate of £5 million to £8 million, fetching £11.2 million ($14.3 million).

Below, see the full list of the most expensive artworks sold in July 2023 around the world.

1. Zhao Mengfu,(1302; 1322)

Zhao Mengfu, <i>Lin Huang Ting Jing</i> (1302; 1322). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Zhao Mengfu, Lin Huang Ting Jing (1302; 1322). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: CNY 181,700,000 ($25.1 million)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., July 5, 2023

 

2. Michael Sweerts,

Michael Sweerts, <i>The Artist’s Studio with a Seamstress</i>. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Michael Sweerts, The Artist’s Studio with a Seamstress. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £2 million to £3 million ($2.5 million to $3.8 million)

Final Price: £12.6 million ($16.04 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, July 6, 2023

 

3. Rembrandt Van Rijn, Portrait of Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym (1635) [L] and Portrait of Jaapgen Carels (1635)

Rembrandt Van Rijn, <i>Portrait of Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym </i> (1635) [L] and <i>Portrait of Jaapgen Carels </i>(1635) [R]. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Rembrandt Van Rijn, Portrait of Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym (1635) [L] and Portrait of Jaapgen Carels (1635) [R]. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £5 million to £8 million ($6.4 million to $10.2 million)

Final Price: £11.2 million ($14.3 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, July 6, 2023

 

4. Jin Tingbiao’s (1760) 

Jin Tingbiao's <i>Statue of 50 Heroes Who Pacified the Western Regions in Praise of the Mirror Heart </i>(1760). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd. 

Jin Tingbiao’s Statue of 50 Heroes Who Pacified the Western Regions in Praise of the Mirror Heart (1760). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: CNY 92,000,000 ($12.7 million)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., July 5, 2023

 

5. The Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, (ca. 1490)

The Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, <i>Pentecost </i>(ca. 1490)

The Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, Pentecost (ca. 1490). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £7 million to £10 million ($8.9 million to $12.7 million)

Final Price: £7.9 million ($10 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, July 5, 2023

 

6. El Greco,

El Greco, <i>The Entombment of Christ</i>. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

El Greco, The Entombment of Christ. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £6 million to £8 million ($7.6 million to $10.2 million)

Final Price: £6.3 million ($8 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, July 6, 2023

 

7. Domenico Beccafumi,

Domenico Beccafumi, <i>The Virgin and Child, with the infant St John the Baptist, St Francis and St Catherine of Siena</i>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Domenico Beccafumi, The Virgin and Child, with the infant St John the Baptist, St Francis and St Catherine of Siena. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £3 million to £4 million ($3.8 million to $5.1 million)

Final Price: £5.1 million ($6.5 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, July 5, 2023

 

8. Fra Angelico,

Fra Angelico, <i>The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John the Baptist and the Magdalen</i>. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Fra Angelico, The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John the Baptist and the Magdalen. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £4 million to £6 million ($5.1 million to $7.6 million)

Final Price: £5 million ($6.4 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, July 6, 2023

 

9. Peter Paul Rubens,

Peter Paul Rubens, <i>Saint Sebastian tended by two angels</i>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Peter Paul Rubens, Saint Sebastian tended by two angels. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £4 million to £6 million ($5.1 million to $7.6 million)

Final Price: £4.9 million ($6.2 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, July 5, 2023

 

10. Wen Zhengming, Poetic Hand Scroll of Xin Yan Pian (1544)

Wen Zhengming, <i>Poetic Hand Scroll of Xin Yan Pian</i> (1544). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co. Ltd.

Wen Zhengming, Poetic Hand Scroll of Xin Yan Pian (1544). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co. Ltd.

Estimate: CNY 35,000,000 to CNY 40,000,000 ($4.8 million to $5.5 million)

Final Price: CNY 40,250,000 ($5.5 million)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., July 5, 2023

 

11. Wang Chong, (1532)

Wang Chong, <i>Hand Scroll Poem Poster</i> (1532). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Wang Chong, Hand Scroll Poem Poster (1532). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: CNY 30,000,000 to CNY 40,000,000 ($4.1 million to $5.5 million)

Final Price: CNY 39,100,000 ($5.4 million)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., July 5, 2023

 

12. Chen Chun, (1544)

Chen Chun, <i>Handscroll of Tang Poems in Cursive Script </i>(1544). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Chen Chun, Handscroll of Tang Poems in Cursive Script (1544). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: CNY 12,000,000 to CNY 15,000,000 ($1.6 million to $2.1 million)

Final Price: CNY 35,075,000 ($4.8 million)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., July 5, 2023

 

13. Dong Qichang,

Dong Qichang, <i>Poems in Cursive Script (Three Poems) Handscroll</i>. Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Dong Qichang, Poems in Cursive Script (Three Poems) Handscroll. Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: CNY 18,000,000 million to CNY 22,000,000 million ($2.5 million to $3 million)

Final Price: CNY 33,350,000 ($4.6 million)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., July 5, 2023

 

14. Xu Wei,  

Xu Wei, <i>Mixed Flower Hand Scroll</i>. Courtesy of Duo Yun Xuan Auctions Co., Ltd.

Xu Wei, Mixed Flower Hand Scroll. Courtesy of Duo Yun Xuan Auctions Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: CNY 32,775,000 ($4.58 million)

Where & When: Duo Yun Xuan Auctions Co., Ltd., July 30, 2023

 

15. Antonio Canova, (1816–17)

Antonio Canova, <i>Bust of Helen</i> (1816-17). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Antonio Canova, Bust of Helen (1816-17). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £2.5 million to £4 million ($3.2 million to $5.1 million)

Final Price: £3.5 million ($4.51 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, July 6, 2023

 

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