The storied collection of New York art dealers Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg fetched $70.3 million tonight at Sotheby's--smack in the middle of its presale estimate. Only two of the 46 lots--mostly small-scale French works and one awesome Picasso portrait--failed to sell. Two artist records were set and four lots sold for more than $1 million. The action resumes at Sotheby's Thursday evening with more heavyweight impressionist and modern art.
TOP FIVE PRICES
Pablo Picasso, "Seated Woman in a Garden" The brilliant, sunlit portrait of Dora Maar, the artist's tempestuous and intellectually commanding mistress, was painted in a single session on Dec. 10, 1938. It was acquired by the Saidenbergs for $200,000 in 1965 through Picasso's exclusive dealer, the legendary Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. The Saidenbergs held the remarkable position of being Picasso's sole North American representatives from 1955 to the artist's death in 1973. The painting becomes the second most expensive Picasso to sell at auction, trailing the $51.65 million set for "The Marriage of Pierrette" 10 years ago, and the seventh most expensive work of art by any artist at auction.
Pablo Picasso, "The Statue" The 1925 canvas portrays the artist's dancer wife, Olga Khokhlova, seated beside a mounted antique bust. The picture was acquired by the Saidenbergs in lieu of commission fees from other paintings they sold in 1948 to Eleanore's brother, the Chicago steel scion Leigh B. Block.
$12 million- $18 million
Fernand Leger, "Still Life With Pipe" Part of the couple's private collection since 1955, the boldly striped, architectonic composition sustains a dynamic mix of still-life fruits and monumental buildings.
$800,000- $1.2 million
Juan Gris, "Guitar and Sheet Music" Acquired in Paris by the Saidenbergs in 1958 and one of several works alluding to music (Daniel Saidenberg was an accomplished concert cellist and conductor), the 1926-27 painting is filled with special illusionary effects.
$800,000- $1.2 million
Georges Braque, "Glass and Fruit" The small-scaled oval canvas from 1910-11, inscribed prominently with the artist's signature on the back, is another cubist experiment completed during Picasso's and Braque's friendly yet revolutionary rivalry.
RED-FACED FAILURE Georges Braque, "The Ball" This cubist gem is layered with strips of pasted faux bois papers, imitating wood-grain panels. Despite its grand history, it flopped at $1.5 million.
$1.75 million- $2.5 million
BEST BARGAIN Fernand Leger, "Study for the Grand Parade" This choice work on paper was snagged by New York dealer Michele Rosenfeld and is one of 70 studies from Leger's masterpiece at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Pablo Picasso, "Seated Woman in a Garden" Bidding for Dora Maar opened at $30 million and quickly became a duel between two deep-pocketed anonymous telephone bidders.
"My name is John Marion and I used to work here."
--The retired auctioneer of the booming 1980s and former Sotheby's chairman who introduced the sale and the firm's sparkling new salesroom