NEW YORK – Christie’s opened what promised to be a busy fall auction week with a sale of Impressionist and Modern art that saw Vincent van Gogh’s “Laboureur dans un champ” go for a near-record $81.3 million.
The Monday night auction of works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Fernand Leger, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, among others, brought in a total of $479 million.
“Laboureur,” which depicts a man plowing a wheat field, was painted by Van Gogh in 1889, a year before his death, based on the view from the window of his room in the Saint-Remy asylum in southern France.
Bidding on the Van Gogh reached $44 million before a client taking part via telephone offered $55 million, setting off a round of counters that ended with the painting being sold for $72 million plus fees.
The total paid was close to the all-time record price for a Van Gogh, set in May 1990, when “Portrait du Dr. Gachet” sold for $82.5 million at Christie’s.
The second-highest price Monday night was fetched by “Contraste de formes,” a 1913 oil painting by Leger, which went for $70.1 million, a record for the French artist at auction.
Picasso’s “Femme accroupie,” painted in 1954, commanded a high bid of $32.5 million, selling for $36.8 million with fees.
The piece is a rendering of Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s muse and eventual second wife, who remained with him until his death in 1973.