Sotheby's Unveils Full Auction Highlights for $1 Billion Marquee Sale Week

Thursday, May 4, 2023
Sotheby's Unveils Full Auction Highlights for $1 Billion Marquee Sale Week

This May, Sotheby’s New York Sales, the marquee auction series encompassing Modern & Contemporary art, will feature more than 700 works of art spanning 400 years of art history to the present day. The sale series is among the most valuable ever staged at Sotheby’s, distinguished by works from renowned collections, with a majority of works on offer coming to auction for the first time. The New York Sales will include the Mo Ostin Collection, featuring best-in-class masterworks by René Magritte, Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly, and many more, from the collection of the legendary Warner Bros. Records executive.

The Modern Evening Auction will feature prime examples of Impressionist and Modern art alongside the titans of Abstract Expressionism. The sale this May will also include an important addition from Sir Peter Paul Rubens – the first time the artist has ever been included in a sale of this kind – a reflection of the artist’s enduring importance as a radical innovator who influenced many of the modern artists offered in the sale, including Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The auction will be further highlighted by numerous fresh-to-market works, including Gustav Klimt’s impressive waterscape Insel im Attersee (est. in the region of $45,000,000). This work, one of the first paintings by Klimt to be exhibited in America, will be offered at auction for the very first time.


Elsewhere is a vibrant Parisian scene by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most significant still lifes by Paul Gauguin to cross the auction block, from the collection of Ambroise Vollard, and Edward Hopper’s important Cobb’s Barn, South Truro being offered from the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Leading the sculpture in this sale is Alberto Giacometti’s, Femme Leoni, a masterpiece of the artist’s post-war artistic production while making its auction debut is Isamu Noguchi’s monumental group: The Family, one of the artist’s most ambitious and significant commissions. 

Left to right: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Now’s the Time, est. in excess of $30 million;

Vincent van Gogh, Jardin devant le Mas Debray, est. $20/30 million;

Yoshitomo Nara, Haze Days, est. $12/18 million;

On 18 May, Sotheby’s will present two evening sales for Contemporary Art: the Contemporary Evening Auction and The Now Evening Auction. Monumental masterpieces highlight the Contemporary Evening Auction: Louise Bourgeois’ towering Spider – appearing at auction for the first time and on offer with an estimate of $30–40 million, the highest ever for a work by the artist; and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s monumental ode to jazz Now’s the Time, estimated to achieve in excess of $30 million and coming to auction for the first time in the four decades since it was created; and Gerhard Richter’s 4096 Farben, the final painting of the artist’s coveted early Color Chart series, estimated to achieve $18–25 million. The sale is rounded out by a selection of works by important female artists, such as Howardena Pindell, Eva Hesse, Barbara Kruger and Vija Celmins; important Minimalist examples, including works by Brice Marden, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Carl Andre; and a remarkable selection of sculpture by Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, and more.  


Immediately preceding the Contemporary Evening Auction is This Now. This May, the auction combines masterworks by critically acclaimed artists such as Yoshitomo Nara with the best of newly emerging artists such as Portia Zvavahera, Louise Bonnet and Julien Nguyen. The auction features a strong showing of women artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, María Berrío and Elizabeth Peyton, while Nicole Eisenman and Simone Leigh critically reassess the canonical traditions of art history with a critical focus on representation. Also highlighting the sale are works representing multiple generations of Black artists, from Jadé Fadojutimi to Kerry James Marshall, showcasing a range of styles and themes. Taken together, the auction traces the arc of artistic production of this century and examines many of the prevailing themes addressed by artists today, forming a dynamic portrait of the trends that invigorate the art and culture of our time. This May, all but 2 works will appear at auction for the first time.

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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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