Tuesday, October 28, 2008

no sale

Picasso Work Is Withdrawn
From Sotheby’s Sale

A Picasso Cubist painting that was to have been a star of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art sale on Nov. 3 has been abruptly withdrawn from the auction.
Picasso’s 1909 “Arlequin” was estimated at over $30 million, but there are fears that prices will plunge by sale time.
“Arlequin” (1909), which the auction house estimated at more than $30 million, was one of the most expensive works in a high-profile sale that will kick off the important fall art season. The painting is included in the catalog that was sent to potential buyers this month.
“It’s been withdrawn for private reasons,” David Norman, a co-chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art department worldwide, said late Monday. He was speaking on behalf of the seller, who could not be reached. It had been rumored for weeks that the work would be taken off the market because of fears that art prices were heading the way of the world financial markets.
The painting, which depicts a harlequin resting his chin on one hand, had belonged to the Surrealist painter Enrico Donati, who bought it for about $12,000 in the late 1940s.
When Sotheby’s announced in September that it was selling the painting, auction house officials said it was being sold without a guarantee — an undisclosed sum promised to the seller regardless of the sale’s outcome. On Monday, auction experts familiar with the negotiations said that both Sotheby’s and its archrival, Christie’s, had offered the estate a guarantee, as well as other types of financing. In the end, however, the painting was to be offered at auction without a guarantee, but with a clause in the sale contract giving the seller the right to withdraw the painting.
Donati, who died in New York in April at age 99, bought the painting after visiting the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris in the late 1940s. On the visit to the museum, he happened on an early Picasso Cubist work and was so taken with what he saw that he headed straight for the Louise Leiris Gallery — lender of the painting — in the hope of buying a Cubist Picasso for himself before returning to New York.
When Donati arrived, the gallery door was locked, but a man inside came out to see what he wanted. That man was Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Leiris’s brother-in-law and a legendary dealer. Kahnweiler had met Donati through a mutual friend, Marcel Duchamp.
With a palette of jade, rose and amber, “Arlequin” is a prime example of Picasso’s Analytic Cubist phase. The figure is similar in composition to portraits Picasso had painted of his mistress Fernande Olivier.
Asked if Sotheby’s planned to attempt to sell the painting privately, Mr. Norman replied, “Right now it’s just off the market.”

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