Even though sales categories have become increasingly fluid at major auction houses—whether the blending is organic or the result of a calculated business strategy to streamline categories—it’s hard to ignore how much Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art evening sale on Monday evening was boosted by a group of Latin American art gems.
Sotheby’s began integrating works from its standalone Latin American sales into other categories, beginning with contemporary art, nearly three years ago. But tonight, as the house concluded its three-part hybrid evening sale with an Impressionist and Modern section that totaled $62.8 million, the utility of that decision was never more clear.
In some cases, the works by artists including Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo had observers more excited than the offerings by traditional blue-chip names, which some grumbled were less than fresh to market and had been offered around privately at decidedly more aggressive estimates.
In the end, the evening Impressionist and Modern sale brought in a healthy total, though it leaned toward the lower end of the overall revised pre-sale estimate of $54.9 million to $77.7 million. Of 26 works on offer (two were withdrawn before the sale), 22, or 85 percent, sold. (Final prices include the buyer’s premium; pre-sale estimates do not.)