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Mirό Leads Christie's $66m Sale in Paris

3 min read  · 23 Oct 2023

Painting (Women, moon, stars) / Peinture (Femmes, lune, étoiles) by Joan Miro sold for $21.95m. Copyright the artists’ estate, courtesy of Christie’s

A painting by Joan Mirό, which sold for nearly $22m, made the headlines at Christie's Paris auction, Avant-Garde(s) Including Thinking Italian on October 20.

For decades the work hung on the wall of the famous La Colomb d'Or hotel and restaurant in the south of France. It is one of the highest prices paid for a work at auction in Paris in recent years.

The sale exceeded its high estimate: 47% of lots sold above high estimate. Several works failed to find buyers and three were withdrawn.

Along with outperforming works and the underperforming ones, we demystify auction-house jargon and decode the small print. The results below include the fees and premiums added to the price when the auctioneer's hammer fell. Prices realised are compared to the auction house’s low estimate, which do not include fees.

Snapshot of the sale

  • 51 works went under the hammer totalling: $65.93m.

  • Estimates totalled: $32.26m (low) and $47.39m (high), excluding premiums.

  • The sell-through rate was 80% of the original 64 lots.

The star lot was Joan Mirό. Painting (Women, moon, stars) / Peinture (Femmes, lune, étoiles) (1949) sold for $21.95m. Estimates were unavailable. It had a third-party guarantee and had been traded once in the past.

The outperformer sold for 400% above its estimate. Christo, Wrapped Trees (Project for Avenue des Champs Elysées and Rond Point des Champs Elysées In Paris - About 380 Wrapped Trees) (1969) sold for $319,900. It has been traded 4 times in the past.

Breakdown of results against auction house estimates

  • 24 works, or 47%, of works sold above their high estimate.

  • 18 works, or 35%, sold within their estimate.

  • 7 works, or 14%, sold below their low estimate.

  • 2 works had no published estimate.

Guaranteed sales

  • 4 works were backed by guarantees.

Joan Mitchell, Untitled (1958) $5.3m (low) to $7.4m (high), which sold for $6.15m, 16% above its estimate. It has been traded two times in the past.

Works that did not sell

  • 10 works were bought-in.

Bought-in works included: Joan Mirό, Women and birds in the night / Femmes et oiseaux dans la nuit (1967) estimated at $1.58m (low) to $2.64m (high). It has been traded 3 times in the past.

Withdrawn before the sale

  • 3 works were withdrawn.

Georges Braque, Glass, tobacco and pipe / Verre, tabac et pipe (1917) estimated at $422,100 (low) to $633,100 (high).

Talking point

A painting by the secretive, cross-dressing artist known as Toyen sold for 300% above estimate.

Toyen (Marie Cermínová), Tu t'évapores dans un buisson de cris (you evaporate in a bush of screams) (1956) sold for $3m. It has been traded once in the past.

Terms and definitions

Guarantees: Sometimes an auction house guarantees to pay a seller for a work, regardless of whether the bidding reaches the reserve price, a figure that is typically confidential.

Bought-in: If there are no bids for a work, or if bidding falls short of the reserve price, the lot is unsold or “bought-in”.

Withdrawn: This happens when a seller decides, for whatever reason, to withdraw a work before the bidding begins.


Joan Miro