Christie's unable to sell Renoir paintings
May 6, 1998
One of the Renoir paintings at the auction Tuesday
Web posted at: 2:07 a.m. EDT (0607 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A number of important works by Impressionist master Pierre Auguste Renoir expected to sell for record prices at Christie's auction house went unsold Tuesday night.
"Young Girl Holding a Bouquet of Tulips," estimated at $15 million and "Dancers in a Studio," valued at between $5 million and $7 million, both failed to attract buyers.
Bidding for another Renoir work was expected to be the evening's highlight, but the $11.5 million high bid did not reach the owner's reserve, so the painting was passed. Christie's does not release the amount of money that would have been needed to reach the reserve.
There were six Renoir's on the auction block Tuesday night but only three were sold. A seated nude painted by Renoir fetched the highest price of the three, selling for $2.75 million. Estimates place the value the work at between $3 million and $4 million.
Although Christie's expected to bring in as much as $81 million, its chairman, Christopher Burger, refused to characterize the sale as a disappointment. He conceded that, while some of the lots were "ambitiously estimated," 22 of the 45 lots were sold at or above their estimate.
A Monet painting took the highest price of the evening. "Waterloo Bridge" was sold to a private Asian buyer for $5.3 million. Pre-sale estimates valued the painting at between $5 million and $7 million.
A drawing by Vincent van Gogh, "Boats on the Beach at Sainte-Maries-de-la-Mer" sold for just over $5 million. It was also valued at between $5 million and $7 million. It is said van Gogh considered the drawing one of his best.
A landscape by Paul Gauguin, "Les Dindons," sold for $2.9 million.
Two records were set at the sale. Gustave Courbet's, "The Gust of Wind," estimated at between $800,000 and $1.2 million, fetched $2.3 million, a record for the artist.
And a painting by pre-Impressionist, Pierre Cecile Puvis de Chavannes, "The Childhood of St. Genevieve," sold for $937,500, also a record for the artist.
The auction will continue Wednesday.
A report Tuesday said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates paid a record $30 million for an American painting when he bought the last major seascape by Winslow Homer that was left in private hands.
The New York Times said Gates bought "Lost on the Grand Banks" at a recent private sale.
Original estimates for the auction were that it would bring between $67 to $87 million, but two paintings were removed at the last minute, which reduced the estimates to between $62,970,000 and $81,160,000.
Reuters contributed to this report.