We Pick the 12 Most Anticipated Auction Lots Likely to Break Records This Month

Expect more billionaire bidding wars this month.


Andy Warhol, Mao (1972), will be offered at Sotheby’s on November 11.
Estimate: Around $40 million.
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Auction houses have been rolling out a steady stream of blockbuster consignments in recent weeks as the art world braces for what is perhaps the biggest trophy season yet. Works on the block include a nine figure Modigliani nude at Christie’s and the $500 million fully guaranteed collection of former Sotheby’s chairman A. Alfred Taubman at Sotheby’s—the highest estimated single-owner sale in history.

It’s a sign of how hot the current market is that buyers are willing to part with a number of rare blue-chip lots while also securing hefty guarantees either directly from the auction houses or via outside guarantors who have stepped up to the plate. One recent report concludes that $1 billion, or roughly half, of the $2 billion worth of art on offer this season has already been sold, due to guarantees.

Christie’s continues to shake up the sale schedule with the addition of another powerhouse hybrid sale of Impressionist and contemporary art, titled “The Artist’s Muse” on Monday November 9, creating a ripple effect of date shifts that will now see Phillips holding the first Sunday evening sale of 20th Century and contemporary art on November 8 to jump-start the week.

Sotheby’s meanwhile is adhering to the traditional model of holding its major Impressionist and modern evening sale in the first week of the month (November 5), although the sheer scope of the Taubman collection—about 500 lots in all—also necessitated an additional evening sale of roughly 75 of the best works. On November 4, “Masterworks: The Collection of A. Alfred Taubman” will open the auction series.

Read on for a selection of highlights, and don’t miss artnet News’ coverage of the highly-anticipated evening sales.

Wednesday, November 4:
Sotheby’s “Masterworks: The Collection of A. Alfred Taubman


Amedeo Modigliani Paulette Jourdain (circa 1919).
Estimate: $25–35 million.
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXI, (1976). Image: Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXI, (1976).
Estimate: $25–35 million.
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Fall15-SNY Stella Delaware Crossing

Frank Stella Delaware Crossing (1961).
Estimate: $8–12 million.
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s is poised to break the auction record for Frank Stella with this mesmerizing example from the Taubman collection: Delaware Crossing (1961) is estimated at $8 million to $12 million. If it makes it to even the low end of the presale estimate, it will have exceeded the current $6.6 million record set for the artist in 2014.

Thursday, November 5:
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale.


Vincent van Gogh Paysage sous un ciel mouvementé (1889)
Estimate: $50–70 million.


Pablo Picasso La Gommeuse (1901)
Estimate: In the region of $60 million.
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern expert Simon Shaw called this van Gogh landscape the “great jewel” of Belgian collectors Louis and Evelyn Franck, whose collection—which also includes a rare blue period Picasso and important works by James Ensor—is the centerpiece of the Impressionist and evening sale. Van Gogh painted Paysage sous un ciel mouvementé in Arles in 1889, just a month before he checked himself into an asylum at Saint-Rémy.

Picasso’s La Gommeuse (1901), which hails from the collection of art and wine aficionado Bill Koch, is a blue period portrait that was painted when the artist was only 19 years old. It also has an intriguing back story including a long-hidden painting underneath the lining that Koch uncovered during conservation efforts in 2000.

Wednesday, November 11:
Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale


Cy Twombly Untitled (New York City) (1968)
Estimate: in the region of $60 million
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s is offering a rare Cy Twombly “blackboard” painting this fall—one of the few remaining in private hands—with an asking price around $60 million.

That puts the painting in the running for a potential new auction record for the artist; the current record stands at $69.6 million, which was set in November 2014 at Christie’s New York for another untitled blackboard painting dating from 1970.

Sunday November 8:
Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Untitled XXVIII , 1977 Estimate$10–15 million

Willem de Kooning Untitled XXVIII (1977)
Estimate: $10–15 million.
Image: Courtesy of Phillips


Le Corbusier Femme rouge et pelote verte (1932)
Estimate: $4–6 million.
Image: Courtesy of Phillips

Phillips’ sale will be led by two fresh-to-auction works: Willem de Kooning‘s 1977 abstract was most recently acquired from Gagosian Gallery by the present consignor, and carries an estimate of $10 million to $15 million. The architect Le Corbusier is represented here by the vibrant painting Femme rouge et pelote verte (1932), which was acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, according to Phillips.

Monday, November 9:
Christie’s “The Artist’s Muse” Sale


Amedeo Modigliani Nu Couché (Reclining Nude) (1917-18).
Estimate: In the region of $100 million.
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s


Roy Lichtenstein Nurse (1964)
Estimate: In the region of $80 million
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

This Modigliani nude—which has an asking price in the region of $100 million—has generated considerable buzz this fall. It is the centerpiece of Christie’s curated sale “The Artist’s Muse,” and is poised to break the current record for a work by the artist, which is held by Tête (1911-12), a carved stone sculpture that sold for $70.7 million at Sotheby’s this past November.

Tuesday, November 10:
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale


Louise Bourgeois Spider (conceived in 1996 and executed in 1997).
Estimate: $25-35 million.
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

Even with the blockbuster works it placed in its Monday night muse sale, Christie’s still had plenty of firepower left for its evening contemporary sale. Front and center (and also currently standing outside Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters in midtown) is Louise Bourgeois‘ monumental Spider (conceived in 1996, and cast in 1997), with an unpublished estimate of $25 million to $35 million.

LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968) CONCETTO SPAZIALE, LA FINE Estimate on request (“in the region of $25m”)

Lucio Fontana Concetto spaziale la fine (1964)
Estimate: In the region of $25 million.
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987) FOUR MARILYNS Estimate on request (“in the region of $40m”)

Andy Warhol Four Marilyns (1962)
Estimate: In the region of $40 millon.
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

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