The May sales in 2001



Every fortnight Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This Friday’s TOP ranking focuses on the 10 best auction results in May 2001.

With Sotheby’s and Christie’s prestige May sales just over, Artprice takes a look back in time at the best auctions results from the same New York sales ten years ago.
Although the May 2011 sales were somewhat disappointing, they nevertheless generated total revenues of $260.3m for Sotheby’s and $401.7m for Christie’s (Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary art sales combined).

Top 10 : the 10 best auction results in May 2001

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Paul CÉZANNE $35 000 000 La montagne Sainte-Victoire 05/07/2001 (Phillips De Pury NY)
2 Max BECKMANN $20 500 000 Selbstbildnis mit Horn (Self-Portrait with Horn) 05/10/2001 (Sotheby’s NY)
3 Paul CÉZANNE $15 000 000 Fillette à la poupée (c.1902-1904) 05/07/2001 (Phillips De Pury NY)
4 Claude MONET $13 250 000 Le parlement, soleil couchant (1902) 05/10/2001 (Sotheby’s NY)
5 Pierre-Auguste RENOIR $12 000 000 La liseuse (1877) 05/07/2001 (Phillips De Pury NY)
6 Henri MATISSE $11 500 000 Figure décorative (1908) 05/10/2001 (Sotheby’s NY)
7 Henri MATISSE $9 500 000 Nu couché, Aurore (1907) 05/07/2001 (Phillips De Pury NY)
8 Claude MONET $9 000 000 Nymphéas (1916-1919) 05/09/2001 (Christie’s NY)
9 Bruce NAUMAN $9 000 000 Henry Moore bound to Fail, back view (1967) 05/17/2001 (Christie’s NY)
10 Paul CÉZANNE $8 500 000 L’allée à Chantilly (1888) 05/07/2001 (Phillips De Pury NY)

The total value of the 2001 top 10 was $143.25m

On 7 May 2001, Phillips de Pury offered the collection of the famous wealthy German dealer: Heinz Berggruen (the Berggruen Collection) during the New York Impressionist & Modern sales. Among the star lots of the sale, three works by Paul CÉZANNE, all of which are in this top 10: La montagne Sainte-Victoire, which fetched $35m (still today the artist’s second best result), Fillette à la poupée, which sold for $15m, and L’Allée à Chantilly which fetched $8.5m (less than its low estimate). An oil painting by Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (La liseuse) sold for $12m and Henri MATISSE’s bronze (Nu couché, Aurore) fetched $9.5m (the same bronze work had sold for $8.4m in 1999 vs. a low estimate of $2m).
In fact, this sale generated four of Phillips de Pury’s ten best-ever results.

The 5 other works in this ranking found their buyers at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. On 9 May Christie’s sold a Claude MONETNymphéas (200 x 180cm) for $9m, against an estimated range of $10m – $15m. The following day, Sotheby’s also relied on Monet with Le parlement, soleil couchant fetching $13.5m, within its estimated range. A Henri Matisse bronze was also one of the star lots of the Sotheby’s sale on 10 May: Figure décorative sold for $11.5m, i.e. $500,000 below its low estimate. But Sotheby’s best result in May 2001 was generated by Selbstbildnis mit Horn (Self-Portrait with Horn) by the German Expressionist Max BECKMANN which went all the way to $20.5m, more than double its high estimate, and still the artist’s all-time record today.

The only Post-War artist in this ranking was Bruce NAUMAN. At the Christie’s Contemporary Art on 17 May 2001 his Henry Moore bound to Fail (back view), a wax sculpture, fetched $9m. No other Contemporary work of art had reached that high at auction since the start of that year.

The total value of the top 10 in May 2001 ($143.25m) would have to be multiplied by 1.5 to get the equivalent total from the May 2011 sales ($213.25m), proof of the considerable acceleration of the market’s rhythm over the last decade.