4-9 December: auction ‘Closing Time’, results
A seven-session year-end auction, ‘Closing Time’ ran from Sunday 4 to Friday 9 December focusing on Antiques, Modern Masters, Works on Paper (including comics and Jan Hoet Archives). This overview contains explanations and report with hammer prices (excluding commissions).
The session of antiques from the 16th to 19th centuries in this ‘Closing Time’ auction attracted international interest. Thus a ‘Holy Mary with Child in a halo’ by the by necessity known Master with the Gold Brocade, estimated at € 10000-15000, almost doubled its estimate (lot 280, res.: € 18000) and a fine collection of some eight Mechelen relief panels in alabaster in original gilt frames readily changed hands. Hereby, ‘The Judas Kiss’ (lot 271) by an anonymous ‘cleynsnijder’ from the late 16th century, notable for its size and rarity quadrupled its estimate (res.: € 19000). An exceptional ‘Alabaster’ exhibition, by the way, runs at Museum M until 26 February 2023. In the Asiatica section, a covered vase in underglaze blue scored (lot 340, res.: €7500) and in the 19th century, in addition to the allocation of a three-piece Napoleon III fireplace garniture (lot 409, res.: €17000), a Barbédienne floor lamp also stood out (lot 403). The curious late 19th-century ‘Egyptomania’ object in bronze and porcelain was estimated at €800/1200 and went at €7600. Finally, we highlight the fine result for a canvas by Gerard Portielje (lot 422, res: € 10000).
Moving towards the 20th century, this auction kicked off with a rare bronze sculpture by Maurice Bouval (1863-1916) entitled ‘Ophelia’ from around 1900 (lot 504, res.: €6500). The 20th-century painting section included paintings such as ‘Eva’ (1948) by Rik Slabbinck, an impressive 160 by 87 cm canvas that had a place at the fourteenth Venetian Biennale in 1948, among others, from the Van Goidsenhoven collection (lot 525) that went away rather cheaply (res. €3800), as well as an Orientalist work by Maurits Van Saene (lot 526, res.: €1900).
However, a small but extremely interesting ensemble of five artworks from the same collection made the room buzz. A large sculpture, ‘Vivre en ville’ by Jean-Michel Folon (lot 565), became the most expensive 21st-century work sold to date at Bernaerts. The sculpture went away at more than three times the estimate to be hammered down to the impressive €350.000 after a battle between an online bidder and one present in the room, immediately also a world record for the artist. Two typical works by Rinus Van de Velde (lots 578-579) also found new owners, at €26000 and €40000 respectively. A 1994 bronze ‘Cercle’ by Bruno Romeda (lot 535) fetched € 46000 and a large canvas by Kati Heck, ‘Multikultisause’ from 2011 (lot 555) went over the phone at € 85000, breaking the previous record (October 2022).
The Works on Paper auction of 8 and 9 December became by far the best auction we organised so far. With its highlights of 20th century print and drawing art, 83% of the catalogued items found a new destination.
Thus, at the beginning of this two-day auction, a small collection of Escher prints, originating from the former estate of a cousin of the renowned Dutch artist, was hammered out to an international audience at prices far above its estimated value.
They were the prints ‘Scanno’ (1930) (lot 1102, est.: €4000-6000, res.: €32000), a street view from the village of the same name in Abruzzo, ‘Three Worlds’ from 1955 (lot 1105, est. : € 12000-16000, res.: € 34000), ‘Order and Chaos’ from 1950 (lot 1104, est.: € 10000-15000, res.: € 22000) and, above all, the legendary print ‘Waterfall’ from 1961 (lot 1106, est.: € 12000-16000). The latter can be counted as one of the most iconic images in the entire 20th-century art history. Being able to offer a copy of this from the first edition of 70 copies was therefore exceptional. The final result proved that (res.: €36000). Finally, there was also a fragment of a colour woodcut on silk that Escher made purely for his close family, of which virtually no trace can be found in the literature (lot 1103, res.: € 15000).
Finding a new destination for Marcel Broodthaers’ manuscript for his artist book ‘Magie’, published in 1973 in Paris (lot 1189, est. € 20-25000) was difficult, however. Here it was the last part of this edition, with a total of seven pages of manuscript. We were unsuccessful in selling it. Broodthaers’ films (lots 1424 and 1425) sold for € 15000 and € 6500 respectively.
The final trump card of this Works on Paper auction was the collection of around a hundred works of art from the collection of the late Jan Hoet. This was the second part (the first ran through December 2021) focusing on original works and some editions. An attentive online audience mainly took on the telephone panel where, among other things, nice results could be noted for works by Lawrence Weiner (lot 1724, est.: €800-1200, res.: €6400), Cildo Meireles (lot 1722, est.: €400-600, res.: €4800), Jimmie Durham (lot 1772, est.: €4000-6000, res. : € 5000), Luc Tuymans (lot 1800, est.: € 30000-40000, res.: € 30000), Matthew Barney (lot 1788, est.: € 2800-3200, res.: € 2600), David Hammons (lots 1754 and 1756, res.: € 2400 and € 2200) and Raoul de Keyser (lot 1728, res.: € 3000, lot 1762, res.: € 3200, lot 1766, res.: € 1000, lot 1782, res.: € 6000).
With this ‘grande finale’ we not only closed the best ‘Work on Paper’ auction in our history, but also achieved the second best result overall of the auction house.
Further surprises in this auction were Liliane Vertessen, whose 1982 work (lot 1647) smoothly fetched €11000, some ten times the estimate. Similarly, Joseph Willaert’s drawing from 1973 (lot 1643, est.: € 200-300, res.: € 2600). Nor did disappoint Francis Bacon (lot 1442, res.: € 6500), Panamarenko (lot 1674, res.: € 13000), Leon Spilliaert (lot 1138, res.: € 11400), Constant Permeke (lot 1136, € 9500) and James Ensor disappoint, whose coloured ‘Rue du Bon Secours à Bruxelles’ from 1887 fell nicely within the estimate range (lot 1063, res.: € 8500).