Kandinsky breaks auction record at Sotheby’s — twice in one night

Robert Dex
Big numbers: Bild mit weissen Linien 1913 fetched £33 million: Getty Images for Sotheby's/Tristan Fewings

The auction record for Kandinsky was smashed twice in a night, with one of his paintings going for £21 million - and a second selling minutes later for £33m.

Sotheby’s hailed a “momentous” evening at its New Bond Street auction house, with art worth more than £127m in total going under the hammer during the Impressionist and Modern Art Sale.

First to break the record for the Russian master was his 1909 work “Murnau – landschaft mit grünem haus” (Murnau - landscape with green house) which fetched £21 million - £2.5m more than the previous highest price.

Just six lots later, the record was broken again when “Bild mit weissen Linien” (Painting with white lines) 1913 went for £33m.

Murnau — Landschaft mit grünem Haus was sold for £21 million (Getty Images for Sotheby's)

A round of applause broke out in the saleroom as the gavel came down. Both early works by Kandinsky were among the few left in private hands.

Helena Newman, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, “Collectors were out in force, participating from a record number of locations around the globe, with the level of Asian buyers as numerous as those from the US, underscoring the enduring importance of London as a key driver of the global art market.”

The sale also achieved a new auction record for Joan Miró in sterling with the artist’s “Femme et oiseaux” (Woman and birds) 1940 selling for £24 million. An Alberto Giacometti sculpture fetched £17 million.

Ms Newman added: “To have three landmarks in the development of 20th Century art by Kandinsky, Miró and Giacometti come to the market in a single sale was momentous.”

The modern art sale was preceded by an auction of small works, with a Lucian Freud painting of strawberries, measuring only 10.2cm by 12cm, going for £1.2 million.

Thomas Bompard, from Sotheby’s said: “We were able to shine a light on the beauty of all things small, and at the same time were entrusted with some extraordinary jewels that might otherwise not have surfaced at auction.”