Sotheby’s and Christie’s brought in about $170 million this week from the sales of Old Master and Renaissance art. Three works brought in over $10 million apiece, and many paintings sold for far more than their estimated prices. The biggest seller was The Madonna and Child by Fra Bartolommeo, which is a circular-format oil portrait that dates back to the 1490s. It sold, still in its original frame, for over $12 million.
The next biggest seller was Susanna and the Elders by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni. Originally painted in 1751, it sold for over $11 million—more than two million above the high estimate and nearly double the low estimate.
Last year, the combined sales of Sotheby’s and Christie’s was about $120 million—about $50 million less than this year. “Competitive international bidding from private clients, new and established, affirms the strength and enduring appeal of Old Master works,” said Nicholas Hall, Christie’s co-chairman of Old Masters and 19th century art.
“Works by major hands like Batoni, Fragonard, and Memling sold incredibly well and collectors understand that these rare works do not come to the market often,” said Sotheby’s George Wachter and Old Master New York’s Christopher Apostle.
“There was tremendous international bidding throughout the week, particularly from Russian collectors,” they said. Sotheby’s brought in about $80 million from the sales, while Christie’s brought in $88.4 million—its largest sale in New York since 2006.
Other works that sold for far more than their estimated prices included Botticelli’s Madonna and Child with the Young Saint
John the Baptist, Il Gaetano’s Portrait of Jacopo, Claude Gellee’s A wooded landscape, Fragonard’s The Goddess Aurora Triumphing Over Night, and Memling’s Christ Blessing.