One of Edgar Degas’ most famous works, Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (Little Dancer Aged Fourteen), is to be sold at Sotheby’s auction in London.
The iconic Degas ballet dancer sculpture has been estimated by experts at Sotheby’s to fetch £10 million – 15 million ($15 million – 23 million) on June 24.
The piece is one of few bronze casts in private hands with the majority housed in museums including Tate London and Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Helena Newman from Sotheby’s called it Edgar Degas’ “most important and iconic sculpture”.
She added: “The artist’s ambitious and highly innovative work marks the pinnacle of his achievements as a sculptor, and its forthcoming sale represents a rare opportunity to acquire an icon of Impressionist art.”
The original sculpture – modeled by a young Belgian ballet student named Marie van Goethem – is two-thirds life size and was originally sculpted in wax.
It is dressed in a real bodice, tutu and ballet slippers and has a wig of real hair.
Despite its reputation, the sculpture was not so well received when it first appeared.
The work was accused of representing the girl in a bestial manner; she was compared to a monkey who possessed a face “on which all the vices imprint their detestable promises, the mark of a particularly vicious character”.
However, critics had to acknowledge the work’s astonishing realism.
The 28 bronze repetitions that appear in museums and galleries around the world today were cast after Edgar Degas’ death in 1917.
Earlier this year, Alberto Giacometti’s Pointing Man also became the most valuable sculpture ever sold at auction, after going for $141.3 million.
Bunny Mellon’s blue diamond has fetched $32.6 million at an auction in New York, breaking the world auction record for any diamond of its color, Sotheby’s says.
The stunning 9.75 carat, pear-shaped diamond was bought by a Hong Kong private collector after 20 minutes of competitive bidding on November 20.
The price also set a new world auction record for price-per-carat for any diamond, the auction house said.
The jewel had been owned by Rachel Lambert otherwise known as Bunny Mellon, the art collector wife of the late philanthropist and racehorse breeder Paul Mellon. She died in March aged 103.
“Mrs. Mellon’s diamond absolutely deserves the place in the record books that it achieved,” said Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s jewellery department in New York.
It was the highlight of a collection of Bunny Mellon’s jewels and other prized objects that Sotheby’s sold for more than $42 million in New York on November 20, well above the pre-sale estimate of $19.2 million.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed, White Flower No 1 has sold for $44.4 million at Sotheby’s auction, setting a record for an artwork by a female artist.
The artwork smashes the previous record of $11.9 million for an untitled work by Joan Mitchell, set in May.
Sotheby’s in New York said the $15 million estimate on Georgia O’Keeffe’s work was shattered after an intense bidding war between two rivals.
The art auction record is $142.4 million for Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucien Freud in 2013.
Georgia O’Keeffe, who died in 1986 at the age of 98, was celebrated for her large-format depictions of flowers which she painted as if they had been seen in close-up.
Her Jimson Weed, White Flower No 1 smashed her previous best of $6.2 million set in 2001, and was one of three works which were placed in the sale.
It was offered at auction by the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which holds a large body of the artist’s works.
The proceeds of the sale will be put towards the museum’s acquisitions funds.
Georgia O’Keeffe worked for much of her earlier life in New York, where she captured the city’s overwhelming architecture, but later moved to New Mexico, where she painted its huge landscapes.
Elizabeth Goldberg, Sotheby’s head of American painting, said the landmark sale “places Georgia O’Keeffe’s work in the top tier of 20th Century artists on the market internationally, where it has always belonged”.
Sotheby’s added that her floral images “stand among the most recognizable images in both art history and popular culture”.
Sotheby’s CEO William F. Ruprecht has announced his resignation after 14 years in the role.
William Ruprecht, 58, would leave his post by “mutual agreement” after a successor was found, Sotheby’s said on November 20.
His departure comes a year after activist investor Dan Loeb started demanding changes at the auction house.
Last week, chief competitor Christie’s significantly outsold Sotheby’s in contemporary art auctions in New York.
Rival Christie’s sold a record $852.9 million in works, compared to $343.7 million at Sotheby’s during flagship sales held every November.
“We are moving with a sense of urgency, but we will take the time we need to find the right leader for Sotheby’s at this critical juncture in its continuing evolution,” said director Domenico De Sole in a statement about William Ruprecht’s departure.
William Ruprecht started in Sotheby’s rug department in 1980 and rose up the ranks to become a director, president and chief executive in 2000. He was also elected to chairman of its board in 2012.
His management style, however, came under fire after investors began demanding changes such as the sale of Sotheby’s headquarters in Manhattan and moves to improve its balance sheet.
Billionaire investor Dan Loeb, who leads hedge fund Third Point which is the biggest shareholder in Sotheby’s, joined the company’s board in May.
Last year, Dan Loeb had demanded that William Ruprecht resign, describing the company as “an old master painting in desperate need of restoration”.
Sotheby’s New York listed shares were up over 7% in after hours trade after the announcement.
Sotheby’s and eBay will create a web platform to allow viewers to bid on and buy art.
According to Sotheby’s chief operating officer Bruno Vinciguerra, the international art auction house hoped to reach “the broadest possible audience around the world” with the move.
Sotheby’s said the number of lots purchased online increased 36% in 2013.
Online art sales are expected to reach $13 billion by 2020.
Sotheby’s and eBay will create a web platform to allow viewers to bid on and buy art (photo Getty Images)
In April, John James Audubon’s elephant-folio The Birds of America sold for $3.5 million online via a live auction at Sotheby’s – a record for the company.
The venture will start with live auctions streamed from Sotheby’s New York headquarters, which will allow “real-time bidding from anywhere around the world”.
Sotheby’s will offer 18 categories to start, focusing jewelry, watches, prints, wine, photographs and 20th century design – categories the company says have been particularly appealing to online buyers.
The move comes just ahead of eBay’s earnings, which are set to be released on Wednesday, and as more and more start-ups, such as Artsy, Artspace and Paddle8 allow consumers to buy art on the web.
In 2013, Amazon announced it would sell works by artists such as Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol on its website.
Sotheby’s and eBay declined to give a firm start date for the service.
A rare Botticelli drawing – titled Study for a Seated St Joseph, his head resting on his right hand – has sold for a record £1.3 million ($2.1 million) at Sotheby’s auction in London.
Created in the 1480s, the piece was the first drawing by the artist to be sold for a century.
Sotheby’s said it was highest price ever paid for a work on paper by the Renaissance master.
Botticelli’s Study for a Seated St Joseph, his head resting on his right hand has sold for a record $2.1 million at Sotheby’s auction in London (photo Sotheby’s)
The work was also believed to be the last of his drawings that remained in private hands.
The drawing came from the collection of late philanthropist Barbara Piasecka Johnson, the wife of Johnson and Johnson heir John Seward Johnson, who bought the artwork for $88,000 at a New York auction in 1988.
Study for a Seated St Joseph is believed to be the only drawing which can be clearly linked to one of Sandro Botticelli’s painted compositions.
The man depicted is a study for The Nativity with adoring St John the Baptist – a circular painting dating from the late 1480s which is at Buscot Park near Faringdon, Oxfordshire.
Aside from an album of illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, there are only 12 surviving drawings by Botticelli – all but Study for a Seated St Joseph are in museums.
An 1856 postage stamp from British Guiana is set to fetch a record $20 million when it goes on sale in New York in June, Sotheby’s auction house has said.
The one-cent Magenta, regarded by collectors as the world’s most famous rare stamp, might sell for up to $20 million (15 million euros), Sotheby’s says.
The unique stamp has set a world record each of the three times it has been sold at auction.
The current record for a single stamp sold at auction is $2.3 million.
The Swedish Treskilling Yellow was last officially sold in Zurich in 1996 for 2.88 million Swiss francs (about $2.3 million at the time).
It is believed to have set another world record in May 2010 but its buyers did not disclose how much they paid.
The one-cent Magenta, regarded by collectors as the world’s most famous rare stamp, might sell for up to $20 million
The British Guiana one-cent Magenta is the sole surviving example of its kind and regarded as the most well-known of rare stamps.
It was last bought in 1980 by John du Pont, a chemical industry millionaire, who kept it largely out of public view, locked away in a vault.
John Du Pont was jailed for shooting dead an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler in 1996 and died in 2010. The stamp is being sold as part of his estate.
Printed in black on magenta paper, the British Guiana stamp bears the image of a three-masted ship and the Latin motto “we give and expect in return”.
It was produced in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana) after a shipment of stamps was delayed from London, threatening to disrupt the postal service. It carries a post mark, showing it has been used, and is initialed by a post-office employee.
The stamp’s first owner was a 12-year-old Scottish boy who apparently found it among family papers in 1873.
It has not been on view publicly since the 1986, when it was exhibited at the Ameripex 1986 International Stamp Show in Chicago, Sotheby’s said.
The British Guiana stamp will travel to cities including London and Hong Kong, before returning to New York where it will go on sale at auction on June 17.
The tiny Bay Psalm Book has become the world’s most expensive printed book as it was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York for $14.2 million.
The Bay Psalm Book was printed in 1640 and is the first known book to be printed in what is now the US.
The book was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
It was meant to be a faithful translation into English of the original Hebrew psalms.
But it is not the most expensive book ever – that title goes to a handwritten Leonardo da Vinci notebook which sold for $30.8 million in 1994.
Sotheby’s said it had been bought by financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who planned to loan it to libraries across the country.
The Bay Psalm Book was printed in 1640 and is the first known book to be printed in what is now the US
The book was sold by Boston’s Old South Church, where Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was baptized and meetings that led to the Boston Tea Party were hosted.
It is one of 11 copies known to remain in existence out of about 1,700 copies originally printed.
The Old South Church has one other copy, which it says it has no plans to sell.
The other nine books are prized items in major collections or libraries.
The Reverend Nancy Taylor, senior minister of the church, said in April: “It’s a spectacular book, arguably one of the most important books in this nation’s history.”
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book set a record in 1947 when it sold for $151,000, dwarfing prices paid around the same time for a Gutenberg Bible and a Shakespeare First Folio.
The Bay Psalm Book has achieved its status despite criticism early on about its quality.
The inking of the type is uneven, and there are numerous printing mistakes.
The top of the left-hand page carries the word “psalm” and a number in Roman numerals, but on the right hand page it appears as “psalme”. Inverted commas are used in place of apostrophes.
Publisher and author Isaiah Thomas noted 200 years ago that it “abounds with typographical errors” and “does not exhibit the appearance of good workmanship. The compositor must have been wholly unacquainted with punctuation”.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Proserpine has sold for £3,274,500 ($5,275,000) at Sotheby’s in London, setting a new record for the artist.
Sotheby’s said a fierce round of bidding, involving five international bidders, was won by a private collector in the UK.
Proserpine, depicting the empress of the underworld, is a defining image of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement.
Rossetti’s Proserpine, depicting the empress of the underworld, is a defining image of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement
The model is Jane Morris, wife of artist William Morris.
Biographers have said Jane Morris’ life bore similarities to that of the captive goddess, abducted by Pluto after eating pomegranate seeds, suggesting she was caught between a loveless marriage and her intimate relationship with Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
The drawing, in colored chalks, had come to the art market for the first time in more than 40 years and been expected to fetch up to £1.8 million ($2.9 million).
Proserpine was begun in 1878, and acquired by Glasgow MP William Graham in 1880.
It was last sold in 1970 by the Stone Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Femme Assise Pres d’une Fenetre (Woman Sitting Near a Window), one of Picasso’s portraits of his mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, has been sold for £28.6 million ($45.7 million) at Sotheby’s.
Picasso’s 1932 piece was the centrepiece of Tuesday night’s auction.
Helena Newman from Sotheby’s said: “This portrait is a striking and notably modern-looking work from one of the artist’s most celebrated periods.”
In total, the impressionist and modern art sale raised £121 million ($194 million).
It was the second-highest haul for a Sotheby’s evening sale in that category in London, with 18 lots selling for more than £1 million ($1.6 million).
Another highlight saw three pieces by Austrian artist Egon Schiele Liebespaar fetch a combined total of £14 million ($22.4 million).
His 1914 Selbstdarstellung mit Wally (Lovers – Self Portrait with Wally) was sold for £7.9 million, a record price for a work on paper, while Self Portrait in Green Shirt with Eyes Closed went for £5.1 million.
Woman Sitting Near a Window, one of Picasso’s portraits of his mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, has been sold for £28.6 million at Sotheby’s
Elsewhere, Claude Monet’s water lily painting Nympheas avec reflets de hautes herbes, which dates from 1914-17, sold for £9 million and his snow scene Le Givre a Giverny realized £8.7 million – much higher than the £4-6 million estimate.
“Bidders, both new to the market as well as seasoned buyers, reacted with great enthusiasm, in particular to the selection of impressionist works that were considered to be the strongest offering in many years,” said Helena Newman.
On the Picasso sale, which saw a final bid of £25.5 million, rising to £28.6 million with the buyer’s premium, Helena Newman added: “We are delighted that this stunning and monumental portrait, which is part of the defining series that introduced his ‘golden muse’ to the public eye, fetched such a strong price.
“In recent years in particular we have witnessed the remarkable allure of Picasso’s portraits of Marie-Therese to collectors.
“La Lecture sold for £25 million – double its pre-sale estimate – in Sotheby’s February 2011 sale, and Nature Morte aux Tulipes selling in Sotheby’s November 2012 sale for £41.5 million.”
Marie-Therese Walter, who Pablo Picasso called his “golden muse”, was the artist’s mistress from 1927 to 1935. Their relationship began when he was 45 and she was just 17.
Pablo Picasso and Marie-Therese, who had a daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso, split when Picasso found a new mistress, Dora Maar.
Marie-Therese Walter was the focus of several portraits by the post-impressionist, including the 1932 work La Reve (The Dream).
The Scream, the iconic artwork of Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch, has become the most expensive item sold at auction, after it fetched $119.9 million.
The 1895 pastel was bought by an anonymous buyer at Sotheby’s in New York. Bidding lasted 12 minutes.
The work is one of four in a series by Edvard Munch and was the only one still owned privately.
Proceeds of the sale are to go towards founding a new museum, hotel and art centre in Norway.
Seven bidders were competing for the work, which had a starting price of $40 million. The crowd broke into applause, following the sale on Wednesday.
The sale price includes the buyer’s premium.
The Scream, the iconic artwork of Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch, has become the most expensive item sold at auction, after it fetched $119.9 million
The previous record for an artwork sold at auction was for Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, which sold for $106.5 million in 2010.
The other three versions of The Scream are all owned by Norwegian museums, but Sotheby’s say the version they sold is the most colorful.
It is also the only one to include a poem by Edvard Munch on the frame, which talks of the inspiration behind the series of works.
It reads: “I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city.
“My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
The piece was sold by businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was friendly with the Norwegian artist.
Earlier this year, Petter Olsen spoke of his decision to sell The Scream.
“I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time,” he said.
“Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work.”
The Scream has become one of the famous works of art in popular culture.
“Together with the Mona Lisa, it’s the most famous and recognized image in art history,” Michael Frahm, an art adviser with Frahm Ltd., told the Associated Press news agency.
He added that it has been “used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts”.
Two of the other versions of The Scream were stolen, in 1994 and 2004 respectively. Both were later recovered.
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