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Klimt : Adèle
Christie's Manhattan

Wednesday 9 november 2007, at Christie's, historical sale with the record of 87,9 M$ for the so much awaited portrait of Mrs. Bloch Bauer by the Master Viennese.

A Great sale is  a great show. Wednesday evening, Christie's gave us this great spectacle with million dollars, like each New Yorkean season. The house of François Pinault offered a “historical evening” like the market in forever known, by coming very close to half-milliard of dollars with 491 M$ of market product, beyond the high estimate of 427,8 M$, with six unsold goods only out of 84 batches. “It is the most incredible sale!” exclaimed, after two long hours and half of bidding, the “auctioneer” Christopher Burge, under the cameras of television, very serious in his strict black costume in spite of the data-processing bug which delayed one hour the publication of the results.
As at the theatre, environment started to heat a long time before the first blow of hammer (2,7 M$ for a delicate marble of Rodin carried by the broker Marc Blondeau) with its procession of stars of all-New York and all-Paris. Usual figures of this impressionist and modern market. 1500 people ran inside the two rooms ready to swallow some common Chagall, Monet or Renoir before vibrating, with number 51, for the four Klimt recently given back to the heirs by the Austrian State. The room retained its breath for the star, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, the wife of the Jewish industrialist Czech Ferdinand, died early in 1925.
Less spectacular than the other portrait of Adele on bottom gold, icon of the Master Viennese bought in deprived, to 135 M$, by Ronald Lauder, for his Neue Gallery, the beautiful one with the cheeks turned pink with its black hat and its white dress flew away to 87,9 M$, well beyond the 40 to 60 M$ hoped. Record for artist largely applauded, under eye of heiress Maria Altmann, niece of Adele come from Los Angeles, which deplored the fact that “Austria did not mobilize itself to keep these masterpieces, just like Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacam) where they were exposed until this summer before being shown in Neue Galerie”. It was a true blow of theatre with a third encherissor surprised - a private collector, announces Christie' S - appearing to 74 M$ on the telephone of Guy Bennet, chief of the impressionist and modern department.
The three other Klimt fused: 31 M$, far from the estimate from 18 to 25 M$ for the Houses with Unterach on Attersee (1916) removed by a couple in the room; 33 M$ on the telephone for Apple tree I (1912); 40,3 M$, also on the telephone, for the sublime Forest of birches (1903) whose market hoped still better. After this explosion of bidding, the room filled by the spectacle was emptied in a flash, in a great crash throwing a shade on the following batches, to the drawing of Schiele allocated to the astronomical price of 11,21 M$.
There is no doubt that the excitation around these Klimt feeded this sale record which formerly included/understood other high-speed motorboats like Gauguin of Tahiti in the family of the Sultan of Brunei. A “perfect composition but too punt of the fact perhaps of restoration”, opinion of certain experts, carried so in the estimate, to 40 M$. Or like Kirchner (Scene of Berliner street), the last in private hands of a series of eleven fabrics almost all in the museums, recently restored with the heirs to Alfred and Thekla Hess, Jewish collectors with Erfurt in Germany. Estimated 18 at 25 M$, this fabric expressionnist was removed at the price record of 38 M$ by Daniela of Luxembourg for Neue Galerie whereas the museum Die Brücke in Berlin had tried to take it again.
Would the houses of sales have more and more they concern with the fabrics coming from restitutions of Jewish goods, carries open to certain abuses and juicy revenue for lawyers? Christie's in paid the expenses with its Portrait of Angel de Soto claimed with his owner, Andrew Lloyd Webber by Julius H. Schoeps, the heir to a Jewish banker asserting that his/her large uncle would have been forced to sell this Picasso of the blue period during the mode Nazi, before his death, in 1935. And this after being however débouté in its complaint by the federal court. A loss of earnings at least 40 to 60 M$ because of this Picasso withdrawn in extremis who would have made cross in Christie' s the bar of the 500 M$.
“The market does not show the least weakness, fault or small sign of skid”, observes the broker in art of Manhattan, Jose Mugrabi, amazed by “such an surge at new money and new customers, increasingly richer with each new generation”. With 238 M$ of market product, in the fork of 219 M$ with 299 M$ (86,8% in batch and 83% in value) for works in majority known of the market and much less spectacular than at Christie' s, Sotheby' surprised S.A., the day before, the room come to test environment, with however a certain skepticism.
It does not matter if the majority of the tables had passed to the biddings these last years. The prices flamed. Bought 18,1 M$ six years ago by Acquavella, at Christie' S in London, the Still life in the fruits and with the earthenware jar of 1895 36,9 M$ on the telephone resold (beyond the high estimate, already strong, of 35 M$!). One speaks about a guarantee of 30 M$ for this “too collected composition” of opinion of expert. Sold 5,8 M$ at Christie's in May 1997, Modigliani of the cover, the Son of the caretaker, with his piercing eyes green, was carried to 31 M$ (well above the 18 M$ estimated), against a telephone, by the galerist Doris Amman. The trade tried to remain in the race: the Nahmad clan carried to 4,8 M$, the Portrait of Paul Guillaume, already passed in 1996 (3,4 M$ paid at Christie' S by Steve Wynn) and in 2000 (4,6 M$ at Sotheby' S). Sounding and stumbling results which have for some a logic (too estimated obsolete Monet and, the Beach with Trouville, sold 10,7 M$ in 1988 and plastered in 16,4 M$), for others not (Picasso, the Rescue, of 1932, stopped Net with 10,7 M$).

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