On Monday, a René Magritte picture, auctioned for $26.8 million, clearly beat the auction record for the Belgian artist, during a sale at Sotheby’s auction house on the second day of the autumn auction season in New York. The picture, “The principle of pleasure” unseated “The Heartstrings”, sold at the end of February 2017 in London for £14.4 million, including commission and expenses, or $17.9 million.
The canvas had been estimated to fetch between $15 million and $20 million by Sotheby’s, which has indicated that seven different collectors had outbid on this picture, an usually high number.
Several other works also exceeded their estimate, such as the “Improvisation on Mahagony” by the Russian artist, Vassily Kandinsky. It went for $24.2 million, whilst Sotheby’s estimated that it would sell for between $15 million and $20 million.
A minor blip, billed as the highlight of the sale, was a canvas by Marsden Hartley. It is considered by the art world as one of the leading entirely abstract paintings in the history of American art. However the painting did not find a buyer in the sale.
“Pre-War Pageant” had an estimated sale price of $30 million, or nearly five times the current record for the American painter ($6.3 million), which was achieved during an extended stay for the work in Berlin.
On Sunday the “Coin de jardin avec papillons” (Butterflies in part of the garden) by Vincent Van Gogh, with an estimated price tag of $40 million, remained in the hands of its owner at the end of the Christie’s sale dedicated to Impressionism and Modern Art.
After the sale, Christie’s nevertheless said that it was confident of the possibility of finding a buyer for this portrayal of a corner of the Asnières garden, from Van Gogh’s period in Paris.
The various autumn art auctions will continue in New York until Thursday evening.