NEW YORK, NOV. 10 -- Fueled 10 by heavy Japanese and European bidding, an auction of impressionist and modern artworks at Christie's tonight racked up an impressive $37.5 million in sales. The sale was the biggest ever at Christie's, and for the first time ever at the house, each of the top 10 lots broke the million-dollar mark.
Pierre Auguste Renoir's "Young Girl Carrying a Basket of Flowers" was the evening's top lot, snaring $5.28 million, a record for the artist. The work was purchased by Hiroshi Matsuo, a real estate company owner and fine art dealer based in Yokohama.
Christopher Burge, Christie's president and chief auctioneer, said, "It seemed very lively up there. There were more Japanese in the room than we've ever had before, probably twice as many. There were one or two things a little overpriced, but it will be a good indicator for gauging prices next year. On the whole, it was rather upbeat."
A spectacular Monet, "Water Lilies," consigned by the Art Institute of Chicago, sold for a record $3.3 million. Another Art Institute consignment, Gustave Caillebotte's "The Bridge at Argenteuil," sold for $440,000.
Nicolas de Stae l's abstract "House in Sicily" brought a record $451,000. The picture was sold by order of the trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.
A boldly colored abstract landscape, "Murnau -- Landschaft mit Kirche I" by Wassily Kandinsky, also set a record at $2.42 million.
A total of 20 lots were bought in -- withdrawn from the sale after failing to reach their confidential reserve prices. In all, more than 78 percent of the offered works sold.
"Young Man With a Flower," a sensual portrait by Paul Gauguin, fetched $2.09 million after an intensive bidding war.
One of the major disappointments of the evening was Egon Schiele's "Lovers (Man and Woman I)," for which the bidding reached a whopping $3.4 million but still failed to reach its $4 million to $5 million estimate. Burge commented, "It was a shame it didn't sell, but we were probably offering it too soon for such a major picture after its appearance in London." The picture was sold to its present owner for $3.7 million last December in London.
Van Gogh's "Vase of Carnations and Zinnias," owned by Washington publishing magnate O. Roy Chalk, was another buy-in. The work, whose price had been estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million, was returned to its owner after bidding stopped at $400,000. Reached at his home after the sale and asked whether he was disappointed with the results, Chalk said, "No, not really. I have a really wonderful painting and it will be right back in my home where it belongs."
The Philippine government sold a recovered artwork from deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The picture, Henri Fantin-Latour's "Pois de Senteur Dans un Verre," sold for $440,000. Investigators for President Corazon Aquino's Commission on Good Government discovered the painting last March wrapped in a blanket under a bed in a Fifth Avenue apartment. The apartment was used by Marcos' wife Imelda during trips to New York.