Magritte Painting Sets New European Record at Sotheby’s

A painting by René Magritte, L’empire des Lumières (1961) set a record for the highest price ever paid for a painting in GBP in Europe, as well as tripling the artist’s record, when it sold for £59,422,000 ($79.8 million) at Sotheby’s London.

The Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction on March 2nd saw some remarkable sales successes, with the combined sales total soaring to £221.4 / $297.2 million, the highest total ever achieved in a single day at Sotheby’s London.

Events started with the Now Evening Auction of contemporary artworks, with new artist records resulting for a number of names, including Hilary Pecis and Robert Nava, alongside exciting auction first-timers such Rachel Jones and Robbie Barrat. Another record was set by Shara Hughes, whose Naked Lady set the tone for the evening by leaving its £220,000 – £280,000 estimate far behind, and selling for an impressive £2,031,500. Flora Yuknovich’s Warm, Wet & Wild (2020) also soared past its estimate of £150,000–200,000, ending at £2,697,000, marking a new record for this young artist. Banksy’s Vandalised Oil (Choppers), sold by Robbie Williams, exceeded expectations to realise £4,384,900.

Flora Yuknovich, Warm, Wet & Wild (2020)


In the Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction, René Magritte’s L’empire des Lumières presented an example of the artist’s probing of the paradoxical magical quality of the everyday – in this case, a darkened house in a sunlit avenue. ‘I have always felt the greatest interest in night and day, without however having any preference for one or the other,’ noted Magritte. ‘This great personal interest in night and day is a feeling of admiration and astonishment’

Also featured in the auction were Claude Monet’s Nymphéas (1914–1917) which sold for £23,228,500. An immersive study of waterlilies by the Impressionist master, this work belongs to the group of Nymphéas that Monet painted during the First World War, in his Giverny gardens as he worked towards his Grandes Décorations, a sequence of monumental paintings of the gardens, that would take his depictions of the waterlily pond in dramatic new directions and David Hockney’s Garrowby Hill (2017), which sailed past its upper estimate to land at £14,093,950.

Claude Monet’s Nymphéas

With 88% of all lots sold and the highest number of works exceeding £10 million sold in five years, the Now Evening Auction and Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction asserted the strength of the international market’s responsiveness to new talents and historical icons alike, in presentations that reached around the globe inspiring engagement from collectors new and old.

See also: Helmut Newton Foundation to Present “HOLLYWOOD” Exhibition

Unique in its broad international coverage of both arts and cultural events, Arts & Collections covers fine art from antiquity to modern times, auction records, a special sale preview by Sotheby’s, as well as market trends that inform collectors of the world’s finest items.

© 2024 Arts & Collections - All Rights Reserved