Another lot going dramatically over estimate was offered at a Sotheby’s timed online sale run from New York that closed on April 22. The European paintings, drawings and sculpture auction included a striking work by the French painter Henri Léopold Lévy (1840-1904) which drew 12 bidders, who between them placed 60 bids.
Estimated at $3000-5000, Le Phoenix was a 2ft 5in x 17½in (73 x 45cm) signed oil on canvas that came from the estate of a private collector in New York. The fact that it was offered without reserve meant it could be pitched at a lower level than may otherwise have been the case. But, even still, the reaction was fervent especially in light of some significant condition issues.
The canvas had been relined and it suffered from craquelure and some pigment separation as well as a 1in (2.5cm) vertical loss to the lower left edge. However, its colours remained fresh and it promised to restore well.
Along with the fluid handling and vintage subject for Lévy, who specialised in mythological scenes, this helped bump up the interest and it eventually sold to a private European buyer at $42,000 (£34,065).