VAN GOGH vs HOCKNEY: which ($30+ million!) painting will sell for more at the Christie's auction? (pics included)
resolved May 17
Vincent Van Gogh - Coin de jardin avec papillons
David Hockney - A Lawn Being Sprinkled

This market is a duel between two paintings. Both are by legendary artists, both depict grass, and both are expected to sell for over $30 million (!!!) at Christie's "20th Century Evening Sale" live auction in New York.

Thus, the Van Gogh has a slightly higher lower estimate, but the variation in auction results is huge so the winner is far from certain.

This market resolves to the painting which sells for a higher value at auction.

Resolution details:

  • Example from a past auction: this painting by Gentilesch has a "price realised" of USD 982,800. This is the equivalent number I will use—whatever is displayed by the auction page.

  • Edge cases:

    • If one fails to sell for any reason, it resolves to the other.

    • If there's a tie (or they both fail to sell), both resolve at 50%.

    • If any scenarios for resolution are unclear, please ask.

Vincent Van Gogh - Coin de jardin avec papillons

Painted in the second year of Van Gogh’s Paris stay, Coin de jardin avec papillons is a luminous depiction of a flower bed in the public gardens at Asnières, a suburban town on the Seine to the northwest of Paris. In this painting, a small flower bed becomes a brilliant world teeming with life and color. Thick grasses and delicate flowers gently swirl and sway in a summer breeze, while butterflies flit in and out amid the greenery.

David Hockney - A Lawn Being Sprinkled

A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967) is a masterwork dating from one of David Hockney’s most important years. Aglow with the light and color of California, its extraordinary representation of vaporized water forms a thrilling counterpart to the artist’s iconic A Bigger Splash (Tate, London), completed the same year... With its staggering, near-abstract surface detail and complex spatial theatre, A Lawn Being Sprinkled is among the most virtuosic of these canvases, alive with the teachings of art history and sparkling with the lessons of his swimming pool paintings.

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@traders Here are the results, and some coverage in ArtNews:

Hockney’s A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967) was the first of the evening’s high-value lots to be offered up. With an estimate of $25 million–$35 million it was among the most expensive works in the sale, matched only by van Gogh’s Coin de Jardin avec papillons (1887). Considering that it had never before come to auction and had been given the primo cover of the sale’s auction catalogue, one would have thought that the picture would have drawn more attention, especially given its provenance in the Lear collection. 

But bidding lasted just over a minute with only two or three parties interested. The work sold to a bidder on the phone with Arnold for a hammer price of $24.5 million ($28.6 million with fees), just scraping by its low estimate.

The van Gogh work had a similar fate: a decent showing but one drained of the excitement that has become expected at an evening sale. (Both the van Gogh and the Hockney were among the evening’s guaranteed lots.) Meyer opened the bidding at $20 million then jumped to $22 million, after which he stalled for a moment, repeating the figure three times to an unresponsive room. The first phone bid came in at $24 million and again, for a few seconds the room was silent enough to be empty. After two more bids, to $28 million, a bidder on the phone with Alex Rotter, chairman of the house’s 20th- and 21st-century art department, offered not another $2 million but rather only $500,000. Surprisingly that was enough to scare off the other interested parties, and Rotter’s buyer took the picture for a hammer price of $28.8 million ($33.2 million with fees), just sliding past the low estimate of $28 million.