A public auction in New York by Sotheby's of impressionist and modern paintings netted almost $200 million. The highest price was $40.4 million for a Gustav Klimt landscape painted in 1915. It came from the collection of a Jewish industrialist that was looted during World War II and returned to his heirs after a long search. A Swiss buyer bought the painting for an anonymous client.
The day before, rival Christie's held an auction, which netted $140.7 million. The most expensive painting was an impressionist work by Max Ernst, which was sold for $16.2 million.
The works sold included six paintings from the collection of the Israel Museum. They were the first of 38 paintings that museum is offering for sale through Sotheby's, which estimates their total value at $17 million.
The sale of the works is intended to raise money for a foundation to buy works to upgrade the museum's collection. Yesterday's sale included "Le droit chemin" painted in 1966 by surrealist Rene Magritte, estimated at $2.5-3.5 million, which was sold for $3.1 million ($3.5 million including Sotheby's fee).
A work by Chaïm Soutine was sold for $1.7 million, at the upper end of the estimated price range. A cubist work by Georges Braque fetched $1.4 million, and another work of his was sold for $600,000. Two works by Marc Chagall and Camille Pissarro were each sold for $1.3 million.
Altogether, the Israel Museum made $8.8 million.
More works from the collection will be sold later this month in London and New York, and in December, Sotheby's will hold its annual auction of works by past and contemporary Israeli artists.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 3, 2011
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