By Lindsay Pollock and Scott Reyburn
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — A collection of 39 major modern and Impressionist artworks, including paintings by Monet, de Chirico, Degas and Picasso, will be offered by Dutch financier Louis Reijtenbagh, who resolved three legal claims earlier this year.
The works will be auctioned in New York on Nov. 4 and 5 and may fetch about $40 million, according to host Sotheby’s.
Reijtenbagh settled lawsuits with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG that concerned loans to the financier. Reijtenbagh also resolved a claim on his artworks by ABN Amro Bank NV by agreeing to provide extra collateral for a loan.
“It seems like it’s one of the first group of pictures appearing at auction as a distress sale” since the financial crisis took hold, said private New York dealer Franck Giraud.
The Dutch financier confirmed in a statement provided by Sotheby’s that the art belongs to Monte Carlo Art SA, a Reijtenbagh family entity that controls the art, and was “previously pledged either to AMRO Bank Luxembourg SA or J.P. Morgan Chase as collateral for loans,” said the statement. “These loans have been fully satisfied and these works will be sold on behalf of Monte Carlo unencumbered of liens or claims from these or other banks.”
The collection includes one of the sale’s priciest lots: Dutch painter Kees van Dongen’s Matisse-like 1920 “Young Arab,” featuring a bare-chested youth; the painting is estimated to fetch up to $10 million.
‘He Bought Very Well’
Geneva-based dealer Jacques de la Beraudiere was one of four main dealers who sold to the collector. He confirmed that the works in Sotheby’s catalog belong to Reijtenbagh.
“I met him the first time in Paris and we became very good friends. He bought very well,” said de la Beraudiere, who is optimistic about the auction. “The market can absorb the collection easily. The estimates are not that high.”
Reijtenbagh began buying from the late Robert Noortman, a dealer in Dutch Old Masters. He also patronized the Paris-based galleries Cazeau Beraudiere and Hopkins-Custot, and Montreal’s Landau Gallery.
He also bought at auction. He purchased Degas’s circa 1882- 1888 oil-on-paper of jockeys on horseback at the 2004 auction of property of John Hay Whitney, paying $4.37 million. The work is now estimated to fetch between $4 million and $6 million.
Dealers say this isn’t Reijtenbagh’s first sale at auction. He sold art last June at Sotheby’s in London. Reijtenbagh’s daughter-in-law, Marlies Verhoeven Reijtenbagh, works at Sotheby’s in New York.
Reijtenbagh, a former doctor turned investor, has homes in New York’s Trump Tower, Belgium and Monaco. His Plaza Group is based in Antwerp. He toured the Art Basel art fair in Switzerland this past June, telling dealers he’d be back in a few years as a buyer.
Meanwhile, an 1885 gold Swiss pocket watch customized for a 19th-century New York City beer baron fetched $25,000 yesterday during Sotheby’s sale of Important Watches, Clocks and Automata in New York. The watch had been estimated to fetch up to $12,000.
The entire 161-lot sale tallied $3.15 million, well over the $2 million the presale low estimate. About 90 percent of the lots found buyers, a strong showing these days.
“They had excellent results,” said New York watch dealer Jeff Morris of J&P Timepieces, who said he bought eight items at the sale. “It’s not a big sale, but it was a very good outcome.”
European, Asian and U.S. buyers were active, according to Sotheby’s Aaron Rich, head of the New York watch department, with more than usual participation from buyers in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“It’s an active market,” said Rich. “There are a lot of clients waiting to buy as soon as people pull the trigger and are ready to sell.” The sale included watches by makers including Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Sohne.
The day’s top lot was an ornate late-18th-century Swiss gilt-brass and ormolu clock, made for export to the Chinese market, resting on four gold-toned elephants. Estimated to sell for as much as $90,000, the clock sold for $278,500 to a private U.S. collector.
The pocket watch was originally owned by George Ehret, a German-born owner of Hell Gate Brewing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He was given it on his 50th birthday by his wife and nine children, whose enamel portraits appear on the watch.
The sale’s priciest wristwatch was a mint 1949 Patek Philippe gold perpetual calendar, one of only about 200 ever produced. The watch sold for $92,500, at the top of a $70,000 to $90,000 presale estimate.
A Picasso painting that had been on show last week at London’s Pavilion of Art & Design with a price of 4 million pounds ($6.6 million) has found a buyer.
Picasso’s 1954 “Portrait de Sylvette,’’ offered by the Mayfair-based Lefevre Fine Art, was sold to an anonymous collector on Oct. 19, the day after the fair closed, said the London art dealer and agent Kenny Schachter, who was representing the client, in an e-mail.
The 2-foot-6-inch-high canvas was one of more than 40 paintings, sculptures and drawings Picasso produced of the 19- year-old Sylvette David in the space of a month in 1954.
Alexander Corcoran, chairman of Lefevre, confirmed the sale had been made, refusing other details and citing client confidentiality.
The Picasso was shown at the “Frieze-Week” fair, held in a temporary structure in Berkeley Square and bolstered by galleries such as Lefevre and Faggionato Fine Art, which took a $9 million canvas by Francis Bacon.
More than 200 art dealers will be exhibiting this week at the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris. This year FIAC — which has a reputation for offering high-value works by 20th-century masters — will showcase two Bacon works with prices of about $20 million and $40 million, plus paintings by Picasso, Leger, Mondrian and Warhol. More than 120 dealers in modern and contemporary art will be opening booths at the Grand Palais tonight. Another 80 galleries opened for business in the Cour Carree of the Louvre last night.
“There’s a flight to quality,’’ said Schachter, commenting on the Picasso purchase. “I’d rather pay a high price for a work that has some history. In these uncertain times, buying a Picasso isn’t conservatism, it’s a reversion to quality.” He would not reveal the final purchase price.