The first sales to be held by an international auction house since lockdown concluded recently at Christie’s Paris headquarters on avenue Matignon and saw strong sell-through rates of 75% of lots sold with 76% bought by clients bidding remotely, either online or via telephone.
In a specially arranged saleroom to comply with social distancing rules, The Collector Le Goût Français, Books and Manuscripts and Old Master Drawings auctions were held across the last 2 days. More than 750 clients chose to visit the gallery space to view the pre-sale exhibition over the 9 days of viewing, either by appointment or by adhering to a strict number limit for each room, all designed to respect health and safety precautions but allowing for the 578 objects to be viewed in person.
Despite these limitations, the average sale through rates were strong selling 75% by lot and 81% by value.
Cécile Verdier, President of Christie’s France: “What a joy to be one of the first auctioneers at Christie’s to take to the rostrum and to hold the gavel again after more than two months, and to do so in front of a group of familiar faces among the small group of clients in the audience. For myself and the Paris team, it was a welcome sign of relative normality. We were also well supported online, a sign of confidence in the market from clients from around the world and those closer to home. It is still early days, but in Paris, we are leading the way and the success of the new arrangements is a helpful precedent for the wider art market and for our Christie’s community in the West where the lockdown is still ongoing.”
Hippolyte de la Féronnière, Head of the Collector: Le Gout français Sale: “We are pleased with the good results realised on Tuesday 26 May. The international collectors responded positively to our selection of carefully curated decorative art of high quality such as a superb set Italian neoclassical panels with marbles and pietra dura samples, early 19th century which sold for €72,500. Stéphanie Joachim specialist of the department added: “It was very exciting to work with Eloïse Gilles who gave our exhibition rooms a sensational appearance. She perfectly understood the soul of each piece of furniture, giving us the opportunity to look at them from a renewed perspective”.
Adrien Legendre, Director of the Books and Manuscripts department: “Today’s results were strong and we are pleased to welcome our clients in the auction room to bid physically. Once again, exceptional lots of prestigious provenance have attracted international collectors, such as the Nobel Prize medal in Literature obtained by André Gide in 1947, kept in its beautiful case and sold for €150,000, or the extraordinary copy of the works of Hippocrates, bound for King Henry III, presented in a spectacular olive-green Moroccan leather, sold for €75,000 almost doubling its presale estimate of €30,000-40,000. A fine result also for a copy of Marcel Duchamp’s famous Boîte-en-valise, from the last series made during his lifetime, sold €55,000.”
Hélène Rihal, Head of sale & Stijn Alsteens, International Director Old Master Drawings: ” Our sale of old master and 19th-century drawings was a great success with a strong sale through rates of 95% by value and 79% by lot and with buyers coming from 15 countries. We are pleased with the good results achieved, especially for the important sheet by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Punchinello with children and a horse from the former collection of Commander Paul-Louis Weiller – which was thought to have been lost – and sold for €460,000, doubling its presale estimate. We can also mention the group of three splendid pastel portraits by Simon Vouet which appeared here for the first time on the market, totalling €420,000, and of which the unique Portrait of Cardinal Mazarin was pre-empted by the Louvre. A nice surprise also for a delicate black chalk study after the Apollo Belvedere by Peter van Lint which was estimated at €20,000-30,000 and achieved €90,000.”