Leading The Art of the Surreal was Belgian painter René Magritte, whose La Corde Sensible (1960) fetched an astounding £13.5 million (without fees). While the estimated price was £14 million, the final sale price broke the artist’s former record by £5 million.
Another Magritte painting titled Le domaine d’Arnheim (1938) also sold for £500,000 more than its previous sale price at £9 million (without fees). In its entirety, The Art of the Surreal was the most successful of its kind at Christie’s yet.
René Magritte, ‘Le Domaine d’Arnheim’ (1938) | © Christie’s Images Limited 2017
On the evening of March 1st, Sotheby’s saw similar success. Two auctions of Impressionist and Modern and Surrealist artworks fetched a total of £194.8 million (including fees), setting the record for all London evening auctions. The Sotheby’s sale was led by Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten (1907), which grossed an unprecedented £42.5 million (without fees) – nearly £7 million over the painting’s estimate.
The nearly £137 million (including fees) accrued by Christie’s on the last evening in February showed a 45% revenue increase from this time last year. Ironically, the pound’s decreased value is largely to thank as foreign collectors (particularly from Asia) jumped at the chance to purchase priceless pieces while the British market is weakened, while Sotheby’s was reported to have found success through their specialists in New York.
Both auctions serve as an optimistic gauge for the art market’s health in the face of economic uncertainty.