While most of America was watching election results last night, a few were focused on the art market and specifically on the lady shown above, Modigliani's "La belle Romaine" which garnered a record-setting $68.9 million at Sotheby's in New York City. Sotheby's brought in a total of $227.5 million in the sale of Impressionist and modern art against pre-sale estimates of $195 million to $266 million. It was a nice jump over last year's $181 million sale and another sign of a potential art market recovery.
Amedeo Modigliani's 1917 portrait of a lovely, mostly undressed brunette sold to an anonymous telephone bidder. It was estimated to sell for as much as $40 million. The Wall Street Journal reports that the work's seller, Turkish banker Halit Cingillioglu, bought it for $16.8 million 11 years ago. Another Modigliani in the same sale, a 1917 portrait of the artist's lover, "Jeanne Hébuterne (in a Hat)," went for $19.1 million to a telephone bidder. Monet's "Water-lily Pond," also from 1917, sold for $24.7 million. Henri Matisse's 1942 "Dancer in a Chair, Checkerboard Floor" went for $20.8 million, over its $18 million high estimate.
Not every piece up for bid found a home, 15 of the sale's 61 pieces failed to sell. Matisse's 1934 lavender portrait, "Titine Trovato in Dress and Hat" was up for auction for the second time in two years but Sotheby's failed to sell the work yet again. Pablo Picasso's 1970 double portrait, "Man and Woman With a Bouquet" also went unsold. Matisse has another shot today when Christie's holds its major sale of Impressionist and modern art that includes Matisse's bronze "Back IV" sculpture which could bring as much as $35 million.