In recent art world news, next week’s auction sales of Impressionist, modern and Surrealist art in London will test the strength of the international art market in this current climate of uncertainty.  The art world, of course, is hoping that it will be business as usual and perhaps even a strong market for investment-grade Guaguins and Magrittes.

The notable lot is expected to be Gustav Klimt’s vibrant flower painting “Bauerngarten (Blumengarten),” which was created in a garden near Lake Attersee in Austria during the summer of 1907.  The work is estimated to fetch well over 35 million pounds (about $44 million) at Sotheby’s on March 1, 2017.  The Klimt sale appears to be well timed as it was recently reported that American media magnate Oprah Winfrey had sold Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” (1912) last year for $150 million to a Chinese buyer in a private transaction.  Ms. Winfrey had purchased the painting in 2006 at Christie’s for nearly $88 million.

Despite the contraction in certain areas of the art market, the bankability of Klimt, whose $135 million ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’ was the world’s most expensive artwork in 2006, is reaching new heights.”

Klimt is recognized as a global brand, particularly since “[e]veryone knows ‘The Kiss,’ and, because of the film ‘Woman in Gold,’ more people know about the Bloch-Bauer portraits.  They’re super[-]icons[,]” according to Patrick Legant, a London-based art adviser who specializes in Impressionist and modern works.

According to the Artnet database of salesroom results, Klimt’s “Bauerngarten (Blumengarten)” is guaranteed to sell “courtesy of a third-party ‘irrevocable’ bidder, at an auction price yet to be seen for a landscape by the artist[.]”

Although the Klimt painting is described as being “property from an important private collection,” the deciphered hieroglyphic catalog symbols below the description reveal that Sotheby’s “owns the lot in whole or in part.”  It appears that Sotheby’s has proactively purchased the Klimt work at least in part.  The auction house is now “flipping” the painting at one of its own sales next week, where it will definitely find a buyer in view of the third-party irrevocable bid.

For further information on next week’s London auction sales, see “London Sales Will Gauge Art Market’s Health in Trump Era,” published online by the New York Times on February 24, 2017.