Works by Picasso. (Source: Sotheby’s)

Three Billionaires Are Parting With Trophy Artworks This Week

(Bloomberg) -- It’s Billionaires Week at the art auctions in New York.

Steven A. Cohen, Steve Wynn and Francois Pinault -- with a combined net worth of about $36.3 billion -- hit the auction scene this week as the sellers of prime pieces, according to people familiar with the matter.

Their works -- being offered anonymously as is custom for the ultra-rich -- are among a trove expected to reap more than $1.3 billion at the semiannual Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips auction houses.

Here’s a look at what they’re offering at the auctions, which run through May 19.

Steve Cohen

Chairman, Point72 Asset Management

Artist: Jean-Michel Basquiat
Artwork: "La Hara" (1981)
Sale estimate: $22 million-$28 million
Previous auction record for artist: $57.3 million
Auction house: Christie’s
Sale date: May 17

"La Hara"

Source: Christie’s

Francois Pinault

Founder of Artemis, a holding company that owns Christie’s and that’s a controlling shareholder of luxury goods maker Kering

Artist: Rudolf Stingel
Artwork: "Untitled (After Sam)" (2006)
Sale estimate: $10 million-$15 million
Previous auction record for artist: $4.7 million
Auction house: Christie’s
Sale date: May 17

"Untitled (After Sam)"

Source: Christie’s
Steve Wynn

Chairman, Co-Founder Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Artist: Willem de Kooning
Artwork: "Untitled II" (1980)
Sale estimate: $12 million-$18 million
Previous auction record for artist: $66.3 million
Auction house: Phillips
Sale date: May 18

"Untitled II" (1980)

Source: Phillips/

Representatives for Cohen, Wynn and Pinault declined to comment as did spokespeople for Christie’s and Phillips.

Notes From The Auction Field So Far...

Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern art on May 16 began with an unexpected announcement: The withdrawal of the top lot -- an early Egon Schiele painting, "Danae," estimated to fetch $30 million to $40 million. Sotheby’s said that the anonymous owner of the work decided to pull it from the sale. The auction house didn’t elaborate.

"Danae” by Schiele

Photographer: Katya Kazakina/Bloomberg

The Schiele setback aside, Sotheby’s went on to tally $173.8 million in sales for the evening, within the expected range and a 20 percent improvement from last year. Still of the 50 offered lots, 13 failed to sell.

By contrast, on May 15, Christie’s had its best evening auction of Impressionist and modern art since 2010. The company tallied $289.2 million, doubling the result of the previous year even though 12 works of the 55 offered lots failed to sell. Americans represented 42 percent of buyers and Asia accounted for 23 percent, Christie’s said.

Top Lots

The biggest fireworks at Sotheby’s erupted over a Max Ernst Surrealist bronze sculpture of a horned creature from the collection of artist Robert Motherwell. More than 10 hopefuls chased the work to $15.9 million, more than twice its high estimate of $6 million.

Another bidding war propelled a small painting by Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich that fetched $21.2 million, the evening’s highest price that surpassed the high estimate of $18 million.

Christie’s top lot was an egg-shaped bronze head of a sleeping woman by Constantin Brancusi that fetched $57.4 million, setting an auction record for the modernist sculptor. The work, titled “La muse endormie," from 1913, attracted at least five bidders. The winner was Tobias Meyer, a private art dealer and Sotheby’s former star auctioneer. The result surpassed the presale estimate of $25 million to $35 million.

"La muse endormie"

Source: Christie’s

Other Noteworthy Sales...

  • Leon Black, chairman and chief executive of Apollo Global Management, was the seller of a 1925 painting by Wassily Kandinsky, “Oben und links," according to a person familiar with the matter. Charles Zehren, a representative for Black, and Christie’s declined to comment. The work fetched $8.3 million, surpassing the high estimate of $7 million.

"Oben und links"

Source: Christie’s
  • Movie legend Greta Garbo’s heirs consigned three paintings and two sold, led by Robert Delaunay’s 1913 portrait of a woman with an umbrella. It fetched $3.6 million, within the estimated range.

Sales Still to Come...

Seller: Marina Picasso

Artist: Picasso, her grandfather
Artworks: 64 works on paper, 47 ceramics
Auction house: Sotheby’s
Estimate: $3.3 million to $4.7 million
Previous sales record: $179.4 million
Sale date: May 18

Works by Picasso

Source: Sotheby’s

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