The five-hour production spanned three sales, two continents, and many, many time zones. But yet, the one that walked away with the prize was a pair of foxes.
While much of the world was consumed by news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the spring auction season kicked off in London on March 1, 2022.
Christie’s nearly five-hour marathon evening sale—which stitched together an auction in Shanghai, another in London, and a Surrealism offering as a coda—brought in just over $334 million.
Between the three sales, 94 out of 105 lots that were offered sold.
The work fetched the highest price on Tuesday. A Franz Marc painting from 1913 was the subject of a closely watched restitution case.
The painting, titled Die Füchse (Foxes), sold for a final price of $57 million to a bidder on the phone with Christie’s minted mysterious London-based client.
It came to the sale after returning from a German museum to the heirs of its former owner, the Jewish businessman and banker Kurt Grawi, in January 2021. Franz Marc, the great expressionist painter who always worked with a tremendous devotion to portraying animals as “they see the world and feel their being.”
Marc, an essential character in the German expressionist movement, was born in Munich in 1880 and died in the battle of Verdun during World War One at the 36-years-old. Due to Marc’s brief career, his body of work is limited, while only a few of his works are in the hands of private collectors.
When you look at any of his art pieces, the creatures almost seem to be hidden, and once they are seen clearly, they are fragmented, as though we are silently watching the animals through the shards of a shattered window.
The Fox is a beautiful example of a typical Marc piece. He broke down realistic, natural forms into abstract, colourful shapes in bold colours.
For Franz Marc, painting animals such as The Fox represented a more innocent time. In his many works of horses, dogs, and foxes, he sought to convey a message about the natural world, its relation to humanity, and its toxic impact on the planet.
Animals were a preferred subject for Marc as they brought relief from the pain and tension of modern life.
Other top lots included Lucian Freud’s Girl With Closed Eyes, which fetched $20.2 million, just grazing past its high estimate.
Francis Bacon’s Triptych, which Artnet News previously reported was consigned by architect Norman Foster, sold for $51.3 million on the low end of its £35 million-to-£55 million estimates.