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New York gears up for fall auctions

11-02-2011 09:46 BJT

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Even with the financial markets remaining stubbornly shaky, major auction houses in New York are gearing up for their critical fall auctions. The big events will feature several works poised to fetch some 30 million US dollars or more.

Auction officials are encouraged by recent results in London where prices held despite Europe's ongoing economic turmoil. They expect their well-heeled clients will continue to view art as a worthy asset. For this season, auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's are offering many works valued over 10 million US dollars.

Alexander Rotter, head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby's NY, said, "On one hand, you have the people that are worried about the times, on the other hand you have the people that are worried about the times but they want to invest in art, So I think it balances itself out. "

A bronze sculpture by Matisse is generating intense interest at Sotheby's, where 71 works are expected to sell for more than 185 million dollars. Its contemporary sale a week later is even larger. It's the first of a series of four iconic, monumental bronzes of a human back and carries a presale estimate of 20-to-30 million.

"La robe violette" (1942) by Henri Matisse. The work once
belonged to Lew Wasserman

A rare Clyfford Still abstract painting, "1949-A-No. 1," carries an even higher price, going for as much as 35 million. It's one of four Stills headlining the sale. Sotheby's also has a Francis Bacon self-portrait triptych priced at 15-to-20 million dollars.

Alexander Rotter said, "It's the first self portrait that Francis Bacon did in this size. That's really the crucial part. It's the only self portrait he did in the 60's, he continued doing them in the 70's and 80's, but this one was the first one."

Not only have the auction officials been confident enough to persuade owners of rare, top-quality works to put them on the market, but also dealers are being driven by an expanding pool of collectors.

Roy Lichtenstein's "I Can See the Whole Room! ... and There's Nobody in It!" is estimated to sell for up to 45-million dollars at Christie's, and could even set a record. Picasso's portraits reflecting two of his lovers, will also be popular at the sale. The portrait of Marie Therese by Picasso, called "Femme Endormie," is estimated between 12 to 18 million dollars.

"Litzlberg am Attersee" (1915) by Gustav Klimt.

"L'Aubade" (1967) by Pablo Picasso is coming up for sale at Sotheby's in New York on Nov.
2. It is expected to bring $18 million to $25 million, possibly setting a new auction
record for the artist, over the $18 million set last year at Christie's.



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