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Henri Matisse
Feuille noire sur fond rouge
Sotheby’s New York
Nov. 7, 2007
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by Stewart Waltzer

There has seemed, of late, to be no end of art, or money, but both proved to be finite at Sotheby’s New York evening sale of Impressionist and modern art on Nov. 7, 2007. The auction was a surprise, and a not unhappy one, though Sotheby’s may differ. It was a much smaller sale than Christie’s the evening before, 76 lots opposed to 91. It did not have Christie’s range; instead it had a number of high-profile lots where the house expected to make a killing. The estimates were high, good material was larded sparingly into the mediocre, but it was not a palatable mixture and a 25 percent of the lots did not find buyers. It was still fun, though the shortfall was richly deserved: Sotheby’s tried to sell seven Kees van Dongen paintings in one evening sale. C’mon.