$81.3 million Van Gogh kicks off NY art auction season      

$81.3 million Van Gogh kicks off NY art auction season      

NEW YORK - AFP
$81.3 million Van Gogh kicks off NY art auction season

"Contraste de formes"

Christie's kicked off the fall auction season in New York on Nov 13 a Vincent Van Gogh leading the way at $81.3 million with robust sales of impressionist and modern art.

"Laboureur dans un champ," painted by the tortured Dutch genius from the window of a French asylum where he had committed himself sold to a buyer on the telephone after a frenzied four-minute bidding war having been valued at $50 million.

Van Gogh began the painting of a ploughman tilling the soil in late August 1889 and completed it on September 2, the first time he picked up his brushes for a month and a half after an epileptic fit. He died the following year.

Christie's said it sold for $81.3 million, including the buyer's premium, well over its pre-sale estimate of $50 million.

It was just a hair's breath from the auction record for a Van Gogh, set in 1990 at $82.5 million in New York for "Portrait of Dr Gachet," although that price would be much higher if adjusted for today's inflation.

The other chief highlight was "Contraste de formes," a 1913 Fernand Leger abstract that scored $70 million, setting a new world auction record for the artist, the auction house said.

Rene Magritte's "L'empire des lumieres," a nocturnal bourgeois street scene, sold for $20.56 million, which Christie's said set a world auction record for the Belgian surrealist.

Christie's said its flagship evening sale of impressionist and modern art netted a total of $479 million.

Pablo Picasso holds the world record for the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. "The Women of Algiers (Version O)" got $179.4 million at Christie's in New York in 2015.

The star lot in New York's November art auctions is "Salvator Mundi," a painting of Jesus Christ by the Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci circa 1500. It goes under the hammer on Nov. 15.

art, new york, christie's