LONDON — Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky's Expressionist masterpiece “Studie zu Improvisation 3,” 1909, was the highlight and leading indicator for a flat Christie's Impressionist and modern art sale on Tuesday.
The painting fell short of its top estimate and a record for the artist at auction when it sold for just more than $21 million, the world's largest auctioneers said.
The early 20th century artist's vibrantly colored painting of a knight on horseback was the highlight of the sale with a top estimate of $24.19 million. A similar painting set a $23 million record for Kandinsky's work last year.
The Russian Expressionist was not the only leading light in a 44-lot auction that included works from Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Rene Magritte, Amedeo Modigliani and Paul Signac.
The auction total for the evening of $100 million fell short of a pre-sale top estimate of $122.7 million but was well above the low estimate at $82.5 million.
“There is a supply problem,” said London-based dealer Alan Hobart. “So many of the top things have gone into foundations and museums. There are eight sales a year in London and New York, and Christie's and Sotheby's are struggling to fill them.”
Jay Vincze, Christie's London international director and head of Impressionist and modern art, called the sale “solid” and said it displayed continuing strength in selling rates.
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