London kicks off the 2020 calendar


With the UK’s divorce from the EU having just been formalised, the Art Market is in full swing in London with the first prestige sales of the year. This Tuesday (4 Feb) and tomorrow (5 Feb), Sotheby’s and Christie’s will be hosting the first major Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist sales of 2020, proposing works by a number of the most sought-after signatures on the market including Picasso, Cézanne, Giacometti, Magritte, Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin and Signac… amongst others. A total of 82 lots (49 at Christie’s and 33 at Sotheby’s) will be offered with estimates between $40,000 and $16 million… and the two days of sales will no doubt provide some indication as to the health of the art market as 2020 unfolds.

Sotheby’s on 4 February 2020

Sotheby’s will host the first sale on 4 February, led by a magnificent trio of neo-impressionist paintings, by Camille Pissarro (2) and Paul Signac (1). Returned to the heirs of the famous arts patron and collector Gaston Lévy in 2018, these masterpieces marked a radically new direction in the treatment of light and color. Other highlights of the sale include two superb still lifes by Fernand Léger, an excellent gouache by Der Blaue Reiter artist Franz Marc and a dynamic work by Jean METZINGER entitled Le cycliste.

Christie’s on 5 February 2020

The two star lots in Christie’s sale – Tamara de Lempicka’s Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (1932) and Alberto Giacometti’s Trois hommes qui marchent (Grand plateau) (1948) – are both carrying the same estimated price range as Pissarro’s masterpiece at Sotheby’s: between $10 and 16 million. These are in fact the top-priced works in the two days of sales. Christie’s catalogue also contains two other remarkable pieces: a highly political canvas by George Grosz from 1918 and a rare still life from the Fauvist period by Vlaminck… Nature morte à la table verte (1907). Both works have been in private collections for more than 50 years and both are making their auction debuts. Apart from these… a group of three still lifes by Pablo PICASSO (from the 1940s, 50s and 60 respectively) illustrate the Spanish master’s dedication to the evolution of the genre throughout his career. There will also be works on paper by Gino Severini, Egon Schiele, Paul Klee and Max Ernst.

What records might we expect?

see the January 31 Article

Estimated between $6 and 8.6 million at Christie’s on 5 February

Current artist’s record: $2 million in 1996 (Wildwest, 1916)

Estimated between $10.5 and 16 million at Christie’s on 5 February

Current artist’s record: $13.4 million (last November)

Estimated between $2 and 2.6 million at Sotheby’s on 4 February

Current artist’s record: $2.4 million in 2007 (Paysage, c.1916-1917)

  • Pyke KOCH – Florentijnse Tuin (Florentine Garden) (1938)

Estimated between $263,000 – $394,000 – Sotheby’s on 4 February

Current artist’s record: $533,000 in 2016 (Rustende schoorsteenveger, 1936)


The promise of a Hockney

The best art auction result hammered in London in 2019 was $49.5 million for David Hockney’s painting of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott at Christie’s. That spectacular result generated the world’s 10th best art auction result last year, behind nine other results… all hammered in New York.


Top 3 Western art auction results in 2019

  1. New York: $110.7 million – Claude Monet (Les Meules
  2. London: $49.5 million – David Hockney (Geldzahler and Christopher Scott)
  3. Paris: $22.2 million – Nicolas de Stael (Le Parc des Princes)


However, not long before that superb result, David HOCKNEY had just acquired the status of “world’s most expensive living artist” after his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) fetched $90.3 million in November 2018 at Christie’s in New York. This year… It’s Sotheby’s turn to generate auction waves (on 11 February)… with an emblematic Hockney work entitled The Splash (1966), which it hopes will reach $39 million, i.e. eight times its price in 2006! So maybe the real star of the February sales London will be neither Impressionist, nor Modern, but very much alive!