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Spring Art Auctions Begin This Week

The major spring art auctions begin this week and will feature many instantly recognizable works by artists like Warhol, Koons and Picasso. The rapidly rebounding art market faces a critical test next week in New York, when auction houses will try to sell a mix of Impressionist, modern and contemporary works valued at nearly $1 billion. A dozen works are each priced near $20 million.

Here are some highlights:

Liz #5 by Andy Warhol

Liz #5 by Andy Warhol

Elizabeth Taylor had not been dead 24 hours before experts at Phillips de Pury & Company were trumpeting their plans to sell this image of her, one of 13 paintings in various colors that Warhol executed between October and November 1963.

Estimate value: $20 million to $30 million

Auction: Contemporary Art, Phillips de Pury & Company, 12 May, New York.

Femmes Lisant (Deux Personnages) by Pablo Picasso

Femmes Lisant (Deux Personnages) by Pablo Picasso

Executed in 1934, it depicts two women who John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer, said are Walter and her sister, Geneviève, reading. The canvas is one of several paintings inspired by the artist’s time in Boisgeloup, a town outside of Paris.Femmes Lisant, with its vibrant palette was consigned by an anonymous private collector who bought it in 1981 from the Pace Gallery in New York.

Estimate value: $25 million to $35 million

Auction: Impresionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, Sotheby’s, 3 May, New York

Pink Panther by Jeff Koons

Pink Panther by Jeff Koons

Since 1988, when Jeff Koons made this outrageous porcelain figure of a bare-breasted blonde hugging the Pink Panther, it has become one of his most popular works, along with “Balloon Dog” and “Rabbit.” The sculpture is one of three, along with an artist’s proof. In 1999 Christie’s sold one of the Pink Panther sculptures to Peter Brant, the newsprint magnate, for $1.8 million, then a record price for a Koons work. Now Sotheby’s is auctioning the artist’s proof. Besides Mr. Brant’s “Pink Panther,” the Museum of Modern Art in New York owns one, as does the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Estimate value: $20 million to $30 million

Auction: Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Sotheby’s, 10 May, New York

Untitled No. 17 by Mark Rothko

Untitled No. 17 by Mark Rothko

When an unidentified American seller recently came to auction house experts with this previously unknown 1961 Rothko, they went to work trying to authenticate it. The seller, they say, bought the canvas directly from the artist in 1965 and until now it has been out of public view. It is not listed in Rothko’s catalogue raisonné, nor does it appear in any books. In 2007, when the art market was hot, a 1950 Rothko canvas belonging to David Rockefeller sold for a record $72.8 million.

Estimate value: $18 million to $22 million

Auction: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Christie’s, 11 May, New York

The Tower by Robert Rauschenberg

The Tower by Robert Rauschenberg

The Tower, which was included in exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005, is a lighthearted three-dimensional work from 1957 that includes paper, fabric, tin cans, painted wood, a broom, an umbrella, rubber, wire, a metal cigar box, light bulbs and spray paint on a wooden structure. The Tower comes from the veteran collectors Victor and Sally Ganz (Mr. Ganz died in 1987 and Mrs. Ganz in 1997), who spent years buying works by Rauschenberg, Picasso, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Eva Hesse. In 1997 Christie’s auctioned works from their collections that brought $206.5 million, a record at the time for a single-owner sale.

Estimate value: $12 million to $18 million

Auction: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Christie’s, 11 May, New York

Red-on-black Self-Portrait by Andy Warhol

Red-on-black Self-Portrait by Andy Warhol

The acrylic and silkscreen on canvas was one of two 9-foot red-on-black self-portraits that were first exhibited in London in 1986, at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, just six months before Warhol’s death. The other one is at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.  The painting is among seven monumental self-portraits that Warhol painted in 1986.  The rest are in museums or in foundations. The owner is a private American collector who purchased it in 1996 and wished to remain anonymous. A purple “Self-Portrait” was purchased by a European collector last year for $32.5 million.

Estimate value: $30 million to $40 million

Auction: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Christie’s, 11 May, New York

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Spring Art Auctions Begin This Week was last modified: October 30th, 2011 by Arsa

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