According to Bloomburg, Christie’s International posted its lowest sales total in two years for Impressionist and modern art in New York as buyers shunned works by Degas and Picasso amid tumbling financial markets. Pre-sale estimates were said to be too aggressive.

“The quality could not be any worse and the estimates could not be any higher,” said Alberto Mugrabi, a New York- based art dealer and collector. “This is what happens when you have the combination of these things.”The biggest casualty was Edgar Degas’ bronze sculpture of a teenage ballerina, “Petite danseuse de quatorze ans,” estimated to bring as much as $35 million. A 1935 portrait of Pablo Picasso’s lover Marie-Therese Walter, estimated to fetch $12 million to $18 million, drew no bids.

“An Henri Matisse painting of a woman in a purple robe from the estate of Hollywood talent agent Lew Wasserman and his wife Eddie also failed to sell. Its presale estimate was $4 million to $6 million. Another flop was Giacometti’s knobby sculpture of a standing woman, “Femme de Venise VII,” which was expected to reach $10 million to $15 million.”

The sale was expected to bring in between $212 million and $304 million, but brought in just $140.8 million. It was the lowest sales total in two years, according to Businessweek

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Marie Therese, 1935, Picasso


Britain’s Earl Spencer has sold £21.1 million worth of furnishings to fund repairs to his stately home.

The earl – who is the brother of Britain’s late Princess Diana – reportedly has a £10 million bill to pay for a new roof on Althorp, the family home in Northampton, so was forced to get rid of many artefacts, including a £9 million painting, to raise the funds. – Earl Spencer’s Auction

1820 part dessert service, Althorp Attic Sale, Christie's

Lot Description
Painted in the Sèvres-style with bouquets and insects within flower and scroll cartouches and gilt and blue feuilles-de-choux borders, comprising:
A footed comport
A circular sauce tureen, cover and stand
Three shaped-square dishes
Two large circular dishes
A medium sized circular dish
Six small dishes
Four oval dishes
Ten plates

The items truly represented an attic sale, for many, such as the riding boots, butler’s trays, kitchen copper jelly moulds and old uniforms, did not seem to come from the first rank of the Earl’s possessions, except for the Rubens masterpiece, (second highest price for a Rubens at auction) and the King David painting by Guercino (highest price for this artist at auction.) Significantly, a number of Spencer carriages were up for auction as well. They more than doubled pre-sale expectations