Fisher Landau Sale at Sotheby’s Brought $406 M.

Fisher Landau Sale at Sotheby's Brought $406 M. and Set New Benchmarks for Agnes Martin, Mark Tansey.

Nov 11, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Fisher Landau Sale
Picasso’s “Femme á la montre”. Via Associated Press


Fisher Landau sale set great expectations for Sotheby’s auction house. Landau is the deceased benefactor from New York. Also, she was once a member of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Sotheby’s much awaited this second in range autumn sale season, which brought them $406 million in total, including fees.


Fisher Landau Sale – a “white glove sale”

Fisher Landau Sale


The 31 lots sold for a total of $351 million. This exceeded the $344 million lower bound prediction provided by Sotheby’s experts. A full house was present during the sale, along with some celebrity power. There was a comedian Seth Meyers as one of the guests. The $406 million total is among the biggest sums reached at sale for a single-owner collection.


However, that amount is still insignificant when compared to the $676 million that made from the Macklowe collection’s court-ordered disposal. This collection sold at Sotheby’s last fall. Also, there was the $646 million sum raised in 2018 at Christie’s during David Rockefeller’s estate auction. The Landau auction came as a “white glove sale”. This means that all 31 of the lots it provided, customers aquired.


Fisher Landau Sale
Agnes Martin’s Grey Stone II (1961). Courtesy Sotheby’s.


There were several highlights as well as some failures. Almost one-third of the parcels received hits at values lower than their bottom projections. But, Agnes Martin and Mark Tansey have new records. Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting served as the evening sale’s centrepiece. The sale appeared to stall a little after the Picasso blasted. Although several lots went for more than $20 million, their sales fell short of the auction house’s forecasts.

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It Was Still a Success

Sotheby’s worldwide headquarters on York Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, via Wikimedia Commons


Agnes Martin’s large-scale canvas Grey Stone II (1961) was one of the pieces that attracted the night’s highest bids. For a final cost of $18.7 million plus charges, it went to a motivated buyer in the space. Four competitors battled for Georgia O’Keeffe‘s Pink Tulip earlier in the evening. Pressing over the initial projection of $3 million, the work went to a vendor in the room for the final bid of $4.75 million.


In contrast to Tuesday night’s Christie’s lot of art from the 21st century, there weren’t many live creators in the Sotheby’s auction. One standout was Glenn Ligon, whose black-and-white textual work, Untitled (I Lost My Voice, I Found My Voice), hammered at $2.7 million, above the $2.5 million estimate, going for $3.2 million. Landau bought the piece in 1991 and later loaned it to the the artist’s 2011 mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum.


Christie’s in King Street, St James’s, via Wikimedia Commons


“Given the strength of the material I was expecting more”, said collector Max Dolciger, speaking to the sale as a whole. “But it was still a success. People were excited about how fresh the works were and of course about the provenance, but they were still cautious. It has nothing to do with the art. It has to do with where the world is right now and everything going on”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.