Klimt and Basquiat sales could help Sotheby's smash London record

Auction of impressionist, modern and surrealist art next month has combined pre-sale estimate of nearly £400m

Works of art with a combined upper estimate of nearly £400m, representing one of the highest-value auctions to be staged in London, have gone on display.

The works include one of the few paintings by Gustav Klimt in private hands, a 1907 garden landscape estimated at $45m (£36m); and an important Jean-Michel Basquiat work that went under the hammer in 1987, a year before his death. At the time it was sold for $23,100; the current estimate is £14m-£18m.

Sotheby’s said its forthcoming sales of impressionist, modern and surrealist works had a combined estimate of £233m. Adding in the contemporary sales brings the total combined estimate to a record £268m-£363m.

An expert from Sotheby’s introduces Bauerngarten by Gustav Klimt at a preview.
An expert from Sotheby’s introduces Bauerngarten by Gustav Klimt at a preview. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

The market has been buoyant and appears to be largely unaffected by the Brexit vote and other political upheaval.

Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Sotheby’s Europe, said the art market had been defying predictions of a downswing. The sale last June, days after the Brexit vote, had been particularly strong, he added.

One reason for that was the drop in the value of the pound. “The results of that sale were extraordinary … people were coming to the London sales to shop. But the prices achieved were far higher than could be explained by currency fluctuation,” he said. “We are incredibly positive and confident about the market. If we get the material then the demand is as strong as ever, if not stronger.”

Other contemporary highlights for sale next month, aside from Basquiat’s Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face), include a painting by Georg Baselitz expected to set an auction record for the artist. Mit Roter Fahne (With a Red Flag), completed in 1965, is estimated to fetch up to £8.5m.

Richter’s Eisberg. The oil on canvas work is expected to fetch up to £12m.
Richter’s Eisberg. The oil on canvas work is expected to fetch up to £12m. Photograph: Sotheby's

Work by German artists account for about a quarter of the consigned lots and include Gerhard Richter’s figurative landscape Eisberg, the largest of three paintings based on photographs he took in 1972 while travelling across Greenland.

Among the highlights of the impressionist and modern art sale next Wednesday, are works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas and Amedeo Modigliani.


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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