What Are the Star Lots Of the New York Fall Auctions?

Billionaires prepare to battle for nine-figure works.

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Mark Rothko's No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) (1953), an oil on canvas from the Schlumberger Collection, is offered with estimate "on request," but experts say it could fetch upwards of $50 million.
Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's.
Andy Warhol's Liz #3 (Early Colored Liz), (1963), a silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas, is estimated to bring in approximately $30 million.
Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's.
Two expected blockbusters at Christie's: Andy Warhol's Triple Elvis [Ferus Type] (1963) and Four Marlons (1966). Each are estimated around $70 million.
Photo: Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.
Willem de Kooning's Untitled XVIII (1984), an oil on canvas, is estimated at $4–6 million.
Photo: Courtesy Phillips. .
Mark Rothko's Untitled (1959), an oil on paper mounted on Masonite, is estimated at $3–5 million.
Photo: Courtesy Phillips.
Vincent van Gogh, Still Life.
Vincent van Gogh's Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies (1890) is expected to sell for $30–50 million.
Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's.
Alberto Giacometti, Chariot, conceived in 1950 and cast in 1951–2. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Alberto Giacometti, Chariot, conceived in 1950 and cast in 1951–52. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Eduoard Manet, Le Printemps (1881) was bought by the Getty for $65.1 million at Christie's (estimate: $25–35 million). Photo: Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.
Fernand Léger's Les constructeurs avec arbre (1949–50), is estimated to sell for between $16 and $22 million.
Photo: Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.
Amedeo Modigliani's stone Tête (1911–12) comes to auction for the first time and is estimated to sell in excess of $45 million.
Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's.

From a fresh-to-the-auction-block Giacometti sculpture and a brushy Edouard Manet painting to a constellation of Warhol stars and starlets, the two-week season of Impressionist, modern, and contemporary art at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips will offer one blockbuster painting after another. The auctions kick off tomorrow evening, November 4, with Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and modern art, followed by Christie’s Impressionist and modern sale on Wednesday.

With contemporary art commanding ever-more astounding prices, the action continues next week as the major auction houses hold evening sales of postwar and contemporary art, beginning at Sotheby’s on Tuesday, November 11, continuing at Christie’s on Wednesday, and finishing at Phillips on Thursday, November 13.

Each house also holds day sales, otherwise known “part 2,” which bolster the overall sales totals.

Whereas roughly a decade ago, observers could expect the entire season to pull in about $400 or $500 million for all sales combined, now a single house can realize that much in one evening if it has the right lineup of blue chip material.

Total volume of well over $1 billion has become the new normal, as has the number of lots with eight-figure estimates. At a time when global hunger for top-notch works from growing ranks of newly wealthy buyers is at a peak, the auction houses are rolling out some rare masterpieces from important private collections in both Europe and the US (see: “Giacometti Sculpture Could Break $100 Million at Sotheby’s“).

Here is a look at some of the lots that could spark billionaire bidding wars in the weeks to come.


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