Sotheby’s Breaks London Record for Art Sales

Sotheby’s recently broke a London record for the highest total auction sales. The February 2015 auction featured Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist works by notable figures in art history such as Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. The auction brought in a total of £186.44m or $280.18 million in U.S. dollars.

Monet leads historic London sale event at Sotheby's

Claude Monet was the star of the night, with five works sold together for £55.74m. The highest selling Monet of the night was the 1908 Le Grande Canal. Selling at £23.7m (or $35.6 million U.S.), this was a record sale for one of the artist’s Venice view paintings. Other works by Monet sold in this record-breaking auction included the 1887 Les Peupliers a Giverny. The 1871 L’Embarcadere and the 1888 Antibes vue de la Salis. The works on sale represented a range of Monet’s work, covering nearly his entire life as an artist.

Not only did the auction break records, but it also brought in unexpectedly high numbers for some of the works. Henri Matisse’s Odalisque au fauteuil noir sold for £15.83m (or $23.8 million U.S.), going past the original estimate to bring in the second highest sale of the auction.

Another highlight of the evening was Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1892 Au Lit: Le Baiser. Selling for £10.79m ($16.21 million U.S.), this work fetched the second highest price ever for Toulouse-Lautrec’s work at auction.

While works by Monet, Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec were certainly standouts of the evening, works on paper by Kandinsky, Malevich and Seurat also sold for noteworthy totals. Kandinsky’s watercolor was sold for a world record price for the artist. Malevich’s self-portrait sold in 2004 for £163,000. Fast-forward 11 years, and the same work sold at Sotheby’s for a record-breaking £5.8m. This was more than five times the original estimated price.

Auction participants hailed from 35 countries, across six continents. The success of the auction was in great part due to the museum-quality of the works sold.

The auction goes to show that Impressionist Art is still the crown-jewel of the art-collecting world. The record breaking session is a testament to the power and magnitude these artists are hailed at and beloved across the world, 100 years after they have passed.

About the Author

Erica Loop has a BA in the history of art and architecture as well as film studies. She has worked for the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Ms. Loop has taught studio-based art classes for children from toddlers to teens for the past decade along with writing freelance content across the web.