Two works by Magritte and Klimt auctioned by Sotheby’s

A Magritte painting that has hung for years on the fireplace in the Los Angeles living room where record impresario Mo Ostin entertained Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell was among the stars of an auction staged last night at Sotheby’s, comprising 15 works from his collection. Ostin died last year and his paintings, together with 54 other works included in yesterday’s sale, brought in total collections of 427 million dollars: below the 500 million dollars expected on the eve, but still the third best result for Sotheby’s in just one evening. The Ostin collection had a starting estimate of 103 to 155 million dollars and achieved 123.7 thanks also to Magritte from the Empire of Lights series, sold in 10 minutes for 42.3 million. Another Magritte, The Domain of Arnheim inspired by a story by Edgar Allan Poe, sold for $19 million.

Six works withdrawn from sale

Collector interest has not matched the frenzy of last year, when the Macklowe collection was sold off at staggering prices. Just before the second part of the evening, six works were withdrawn from sale. Sotheby’s Worldwide president Brooke Lampley admitted that “the price of money” played a part in sales performance: “It’s no longer free and that plays into how customers spend their money and where they place their assets.” “. However, there were elements of surprise: a monumental outdoor sculpture by Isamu Noguchi titled The Family set a record for the artist with $12.3 million, double the initial estimate, while a 1902 Gustav Klimt, Island in the Attersee, was paid $53.2 million above an initial valuation of $45 million.