5 Takeaways From the February 2017 Auctions

February saw a record sale for Rene Magritte.

Rene Magritte, Le corde sensible (1960). Courtesy Christie's Images, Ltd.

Data collected from the artnet Price Database offers insight into changes in the market including notable, record-breaking sales. In this monthly series, with the help of the artnet Price Database, we aim to fill you in on some of the more interesting facts, numbers, and stories that we find.

During February, there were 89 cities around the world hosting auctions. This is a decline from February 2016, when auctions were held in 102 cities. The Price Database team has noticed a number of auction houses in different regions have moved sales that are normally scheduled for February to March. New York, Paris, and Tokyo had the most lots offered during February 2017.

Rene Magritte, <i>Le beau monde</i> (1962). Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

Rene Magritte, Le beau monde (1962). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.

1. During the Christie’s London “The Art of the Surreal” sale on February 28, a new auction record was set for a Rene Magritte. The painting, Le corde sensible (1960) was sold for £14.4 million ($17.9 million). The second most expensive Magritte artwork at auction was also sold during the February London season. On February 5, 2014, Sotheby’s London sold Le Beau Monde (1962) for £7.9 million ($12.9 million).

Paul Gauguin, Te Fare (La maison) (1892). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.

2. The top-selling fine art lot was a Paul Gauguin painting, Te Fare (La maison) (1892), which realized £20.3 million ($25.25 million) during the Christie’s New York “Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale” on February 28. According to artnet Price Database records, the final price places this lot among the top five most expensive Gauguin paintings sold at auction.

Arthur Rimbaud, <i>The River of Cassis</i> (1872) Courtesy Sotheby's Paris.

Arthur Rimbaud, The River of Cassis (1872) Courtesy Sotheby’s Paris.

3. The top selling decorative art lot in February was a hand-written poem, “The River of Cassis,” by Arthur Rimbaud. The 1872 manuscript sold for €283,500 ($303,468) during the Sotheby’s Paris “Books and Manuscripts” sale on February 8.

Courtesy Maas Juweiler and Nagel, Stuttgart

Courtesy Maas Juweiler and Nagel, Stuttgart

4. There were 9,010 new artists and designers added to the artnet Artist Index in February. One new addition is Dutch jewelers Maas Juwelier, which had four lots offered at Nagel Auktionen in their “Arts and Antiques” sale on February 22.


Pablo Picasso, <i>Joueur de flute et femme nue</i> (1970) sold for £4.6 million ($5.8 million) at Christie's London last month.

Pablo Picasso, Joueur de flute et femme nue (1970) sold for £4.6 million ($5.8 million) at Christie’s London last month.


5. Pablo Picasso was popular among buyers in February with 53 lots sold, surpassing the number of works by other artists offered during the month. The top selling lots were offered by Christie’s London, Sotheby’s London, Artcurial and Palm Beach Modern Auctions.

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