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Robert Indiana “LOVE” Painting Sells for $1.3M; Van Gogh Breaks Record at TEFAF

Also, the Cleveland Museum of Art receives largest donation since 1958, Alma Thomas’s “Flash of Spring” (1968) sold for $819,000, and more.

Maurice Denis, “Blessing of a Yacht on the Belon River” (1899), Oil on canvas, 75 x 80 cm (courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art)

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) announced the museum’s largest donation since 1958, a gift of over 100 works—97 gifts and 17 promised gifts — from collectors and longtime CMA supporters Joseph and Nancy Keithley of Keithley Instruments, Inc. The donation, which is valued at over $100 million, includes Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modern works across media as well as Chinese and Japanese ceramics. On March 17, the museum will put a selection of 10 collection highlights on display; the entire collection will be exhibited in Fall 2022.

Sotheby’s New York held a successful sale of Juan Hamilton’s collection of art and ephemera previously owned by Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. The sale achieved $17.2 million, a nice bump over its presale estimate of $13.3 million. O’Keeffe’s painting “Nature Forms – Gaspé” (1932) was the most expensive lot, selling for $6.9 million. In advance of the public auction, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library privately purchased manuscripts and photographs for its Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keeffe Archive. Among the items acquired by Yale are O’Keeffe’s personal recipe card file and some of her unpublished writings.

Phillips New York New Now Auction, which intersperses work by artists on the rise with work by established artists, garnered $7.9 million with a strong 92% sell-through rate. The late Ed Clark’s “Untitled (Acrylic #1) from the series Louisiana” (1978) led the sale at $462,500, while a work on paper by Clark sold for $180,000, setting a record for his work in that medium. Records were set for nine artists, including Leonardo Drew, Yoan Capote, and Noah Davis, whose oil painting “In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus” (2009) sold for $400,000, five times its high estimate. The sale had more online sale registrants than any previous Phillips contemporary art auction, which I would imagine stems from some combination of increased interest and increased travel bans.

Noah Davis, “In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus” (2009), oil on canvas, 48 1/8 x 48 1/8 in. (courtesy of Phillips)

Christie’s New York Post-War to Present Sale, which similarly brings together work by more established and less established artists, achieved $21.9 million. Robert Indiana’s painting “LOVE” (1967) was the top lot at $1,335,000. Alma Thomas’s brilliantly hued “Flash of Spring” (1968) sold for $819,000, making the painting her second highest price at auction—her record is $2.65 million, set in fall 2019—and the third most expensive work in the sale. Artwork sold to benefit BOMB Magazine’s Endowment Fund, which was launched in 2018 to create a safety net for the publication, had a 100% sell-through rate.

Kito de Boer, the Amersham Advisors founder who opened McKinsey’s India office in 1992, and wife Jane de Boer are selling work from their collection of over 1,000 pieces of modern Indian art. Christie’s will auction 153 pieces in a single-owner sale in New York and online, with a combined high estimate of $4.9 million. Sale highlights include Akbar Padamsee’s “Paysage,” estimated at $300,000–500,000, and several works by Rameshwar Broota. The de Boers first began collecting in 1993, when they purchased a small painting by Ganesh Pyne for $5,000. Of the pair’s collecting ethos, Kito de Boer said: “Jane was very clear. She said: “We buy one work at a time with love, and nothing else matters.””

At TEFAF Maastricht, London-based art gallery Dickinson sold a painting by Vincent Van Gogh to a private collector for around €12m-€15 million ($15.4 to 19.25 million), TEFAF’s most expensive sale reported thus far. (There won’t be much opportunity for exhibitors to compete with this number going forward; TEFAF has closed early due to the contraction of coronavirus by an unidentified exhibitor.) In 1929 Van Gogh’s “Peasant Woman in front of a Farmhouse (Paysanne devant une chaumière)” (1885) was given to John Holme (1871–1952), who ran a farm outside of Stafford in the UK, as payment for debt. The work went on to be sold by his son at a farm sale for £4 in 1967, and then was sold again in 1968 at a London junk shop for £45.

The Armory Show in New York has come to a close. The fair hosted 183 gallery exhibitors from across 32 countries, representatives from over 140 national and international cultural institutions, and VIP visitors including Questlove and David Sedaris. Galleries announced strong sales “despite the situation all over the world” (Alessia Calarota, Galleria d’Arte Maggiore g.a.m, Bologna), “despite expectations” (Glenn Scott Wright, Victoria Miro, New York), and “considering the wider circumstances” (Stefan von Bartha, von Bartha, Basel). Denny Dimin Gallery and Sorry We’re Closed reported sold-out booths. The fall edition of The Armory Show will be held at New York’s Javits Center, and in 2021 the fair will move to a location in Hudson Yards.

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