ART+, all about the art market
June 2022 1785 

Czechs in London

London Cullen Collection & Czech Art Sales

Sotheby’s – The auction of the collection of the American couple the Cullens, which took place in London on Wednesday, 12 November 2014, yielded 784,200 pounds sterling (excluding VAT and other fees). Expressed in Czech korunas, collectors paid 27.6 million for the Czech-surrealist pieces of art on offer. Some 83 per cent of the 128 paintings, works on paper and books up for auction found a new owner.

takar Kubín: Cubist Figure / oil on canvas / 80 x 60 cm / Sotheby’s 12. 11. 2014 / cena: 170 500 GBP (6,6 Mil. CZK) Otakar Kubín: Cubist Figure / oil on canvas / 80 x 60 cm / Sotheby’s 12. 11. 2014 / cena: 170 500 GBP (6,6 Mil. CZK)


However, the highlight of the auction, The Message of the Forest by Toyen, remained without a buyer, despite the fact that the auction house had counted on fetching between CZK 32 to 46 million, including all fees. However, the bidding stopped at to the equivalent of CZK 24 million and the painting thus remained unsold (read here).

The most expensive item in the auction was Jindřich Štyrský’s painting Roots, which sold for GBP 146,500. However, this price does not include the 20% VAT on the commission and the 5% VAT on the hammer price applying to items imported from non-European Union countries. The painting would have cost a buyer from the Czech Republic CZK 5.5 million. Last year, another painting from the same series sold for almost twice as much at an auction organised by Galerie Kodl, and the achieved price remained GBP 30,000 below the original lower estimate. Toyen’s Portrait d’André Breton also sold below its estimated price, with its new owner having to pay CZK 4.3 million, including all fees.

The auction house had greater more success with photographs and works on paper. Štyrský’s collage from the series The Portable Cabinet sold for CZK 3.74 million, his collage number 9 from the series Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream fetched CZK 1.5 million, and a Karel Teige collage was auctioned off for CZK 2.8 million. A set of five photographs by Jindřich Heisler, which we presented in our October issue, sold for CZK 1.7 million. Thirty volumes of the magazine Red were sold high above their estimated price, with the auction winner bidding CZK 460,000 for them (prices shown in Czech korunas include all fees).

Several pieces of Czech art were also offered in an auction entitled A Different Perspective, which took place on the same day, just a few hours before the auction of the Cullen Collection, and which focused on Eastern European art. The auction’s most expensive lot was Otakar Kubín’s expressive painting Cubist Figure, which was sold at a significant premium for CZK 6.6 million, which was CZK 200,000 higher than the painter’s record on the Czech market so far. Other auctioned items selling to the order of millions of korunas included works by Mikuláš Medek (CZK 3.47 million), Emil Filla (CZK 3 million), and František Kupka (CZK 2.7 million). The CZK 915,000 paid for Otto Gutfreund’s Concert Relief and the CZK 236,000 paid for Antonín Procházka’s cubist drawing also constitute a success.

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