SALE RESULTS / Line Vautrin
A new world record, but what does it mean for the market? Astrid Malingreau offers her insightful analysis.
ON THE 8TH March, International Womens’ Day, Christie’s honoured the genius of Line Vautrin with ‘Différents éclats de Paradis’, a various owner sale centred around works by the French artist. After more than four hours of auction, the 239 lots fetched a total of €3,287,214 (total hammer price €2,646,628) – well exceeding the total high estimate ($1,876,400) – selling 90% by lot and 97% by value. Christie’s reported bidding activity from 18 countries.
The mirrors were the most sought-after lots. Although there were only 25 of them (just over 10% of the total number of lots), they represented about 62% of the sales total – selling on average 132% above their high estimates. A new record was set with a unique mirror, ‘Grand miroir feuilles vertes’ from 1960, for which three telephones fought up to €491,400 (Lot 134, hammer price €390,000) against an estimate of €120,000-180,000.
Another notable highlight was the sculptural ‘Miroir Folie’, which sold for €327,600 (Lot 179, hammer price €262,000, estimate €80,000-120,000). The only surprise was to see the unusual Talosel mirror (Lot 88, estimate €40,000-60,000) bought in at €32,000.
Mirrors are the most iconic creations of Line Vautrin and they often feature her signature techniques: Talosel and a convex mirror plate. In addition, they are probably more accessible to the international audience, unlike the boxes which often refer to French idioms or popular songs.
These results, although positive, need to be understood in the context of Christie’s recent decision to raise the buyer’s premium and reshuffle the increments on which the percentage is based. Furthermore, estimates and reserves were mostly low, which encouraged activity and made the lot performances seem quite spectacular.
For instance, the best performing lots were the delightful box ‘Les quatres saisons’ – which sold for €12,600 against an estimate of €1,000-1,500 (Lot 99, hammer price €10,000) – and the exquisite ‘Poudrier’ from 1940, which achieved €40,320 (Lot 47, hammer price €32,000) with an estimate of €3,000-5,000.
Jewellery was the largest category of the sale (107 lots), but still represents a small portion of the total. Perhaps young collectors should consider it as a good entryway to the work of Line Vautrin in a future sale?
Was this sale a defining moment for the Line Vautrin market?
This sale was aligned with the one held by Christie’s in 2015 of Marie-Laure Bonnaud-Vautrin’s personal collection. Although the present sale did not have the same prestigious provenance, it was an outstanding overview of Vautrin’s work with rare and unique pieces representative of the artist’s talent – combining poetic sensibility and technical mastery. Because of this, the catalogue, patiently put together and cleverly arranged by themes by the specialists, will remain an important reference. The investment involved is testimony to Christie’s ongoing effort to build a healthy market for the artist. It remains to be seen, however, if this sale will change the estimates and results for future lots.
Above all, the success of ‘Différents éclats de Paradis’ is a tribute to the work of Marie-Laure Bonnaud-Vautrin, who worked tirelessly to create an authentication committee to promote recognition of her mother’s work and its integrity. Significantly, this sale was the first one openly endorsed by the Vautrin committee, as noted in the catalogue introduction (even though buyers will have to take it upon themselves to request and pay for the certificates).
The artist’s only daughter sadly passed away a few days before the auction. The sale’s success was a clear tribute to her lifetime commitment.
Different Shards of Paradise: Works by Line Vautrin at Christie’s Paris, 8th March 2022.