Sotheby's Sale Busts, Picasso Goes Unsold

$61.3M result fails to reach low estimate
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2009 6:45 AM CDT
'Composition in Black and White, With Double Lines' by Piet Mondrian was the top lot at last night's sale at Sotheby's in New York, going for $9,266,500.    (AP Photo/Sotheby's)
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(Newser) – The art market failed to recover from its recent slump last night, as Sotheby's held a disappointing New York sale that saw works by Picasso and Giacometti go unsold. The small auction of 36 lots brought in just $61.3 million—well below the low estimate of $81.5 million. But a black-and-white grid painting by Piet Mondrian beat expectations, selling for three times its low estimate at $9.2 million.

The mood inside the saleroom in Manhattan was more sober than in previous years, the Wall Street Journal reports, with celebrities staying away and seats in the front row remaining empty. Works by Impressionists such as Monet and Renoir found buyers, although all of them went for under $5 million. Sotheby's rival Christie's holds its own sale tonight.