Auction Analysis: Sotheby's London

Modern & Impressionist / Surrealist Art Evening Sale  | February 28, 2018



While Christie's sold 97 lots, Sotheby's had a much smaller number of lots: only 47.


This and the fact that around 40% of the lots bought in or went below their low estimates

led to a sales total which is down 30% from 2017.


Like the evening before at Christie's, low sell-through rate of only 79% of the lots. 

The lots in the Surrealist sale sold much better than in the Mod/Imp. sale:

85% sell-through rate vs. only 72% sell-through rate.

 Slow and cautious bidding. Bidding decisions took very long and nobody was taking risks.


A few lots exceeded the expectations, while the majority of lots sold within or below their estimates.For example, Picasso's 'Matador' barely reached its low estimate.


However, the overall price level and the average price level was  higher than at Christie's.

Sotheby's strategy for the sale seemed "Quality and high-price level";

while Christie's instead went for "Quantity".


All-in-all, Christie's winning with a higher sales total, but one has to consider that they reached

a 11% higher Sales Total than Sotheby's mostly because they had double the number of  lots than Sotheby's in their sale. Their top price level and average price structure was much lower than Sotheby's.





 - Harry Smith of Gurr Johns bought all four Picasso top lots of the evening. He was the winning bidder on the top lot 'Femme au beret' as well as on the 'Matador'.  He was sitting  in the room, well visible to everbody.
Only on the top lot, the Picasso 'Femme au beret' he lets Sotheby's Mark Poltimore do the bidding - but let Sotheby's announce later that Gurr Johns was the buyer.


- Bidding in the room: Acquavella, Beaumont Nathan, Thomas Seydoux.



Let's take a look now at the Top Lots and at what didn't sell:










Sothebys Sotheby's Modern Impressionist Surrealist Art Evening Sale Auction London March February 2018 van Dongen Picasso Miró Sisley Chagall Picabia Dalí Chadwick Giacometti