Sotheby’s 2023 Auction Sales Are Smaller Than From 2022

Sotheby's 2023 Auction Sales in London Recorded a Slight Decrease Compared to 2022, Bringing in $208 Million in Sales.

Mar 3, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Sotheby's 2023 Auction
Sotheby’s, NY, photo by Ajay Suresh via Flickr


Sotheby’s 2023 auction sales in London fetched $208 million, including fees. Overall, Sotheby’s had two auctions dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The auction took place in London on Wednesday. This auction came just days after Christie’s held its own auction, also in London. Christie’s pulled $202 million with fees.


Sotheby’s 2023 Auction Has 28 Percent Drop

Sotheby's 2023 Auction
Sotheby’s auctioneer during the March 2 ‘Now’ Evening sale in London


Sotheby’s auction sales had 57 lots in total. Of those 57 lots the auction house sold 53. Sales success amounts 92 percent rate. The sell – rate for this year is bigger than last years, which was 89 percent. It is also bigger than Christie’s achieved result from last week’s auction, which also took place in London. However, this year’s auction differs from last year’s in several parameters.

First of all, last year’s evening sale had 74 lots in total, which is way more compared to this year. Also, while Sotheby’s 2023 Auction fetched $208 million, last year’s auction pulled $297.2 million. We can see that sales this year are lower by 28 percent. There were ten works of art at the auction. Also, Jenny Saville and Wassily Kandinsky set nine records.


A Restituted Kandinsky
Wassily Kandsinky, View of Murnau with Church (1910). Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.


Wassily Kandinsky’s restored picture set a new milestone for the artist. The painting called “Murnau With Church II” fetched $44.9 million. Relatives of the painting’s first owners, Johanna Margarete Stern and Siegbert Samuel Stern, recently received it back; they decided to sell it at Sotheby’s. The painting was sold to the client from the phone, and the bidding started with $33.5 million.


Artists Breaking Records at Sotheby’s

Wassily Kandinksy’s, Murnau mit Kirche II (Murnau with Church II) 1910, sold for nearly $45 million at a Sotheby’s London sale.

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But five items at the latter auction brought around $18 million, according to Sotheby’s, surpassing any comparable London sale since 2015. Among the high-priced sales were pieces by Gerhard Richter, Lucian Freud, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Piccaso, in addition to Kandinsky. Lucian Freud’s portrait of his daughter Isobel (Ib painting) sold below appraised value.


A legal settlement between the descendants of the original owner, a Jewish art scholar persecuted during World War II, and the Norwegian collector who had bought it resulted in the sale of a sizable Edvard Munch painting, Dancing on the Beach (1906), at auction. The work’s estimated value was $15 million, but it sold for $17.3 million.


Sotheby's 2023 Auction
Mohammed Sami’s Family Issues I (2019). Courtesy Sotheby’s.


Also, Mohammed Sami’s painting received proper attention at auction. His painting shows an indoor scene with potted plants and a broken cup which seems like the aftermath of a family argument. Despite the dour subject matter, bidders did not shy away. It went for an above-estimate $424,977.

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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.