Mondrian painting sold for $50.6 million at Christie’s auction

Detail of Piet Mondrian's "Composition No. III," which sold for $50.6 million at Christie's in New York on Thursday.

Detail of Piet Mondrian’s “Composition No. III,” which sold for $50.6 million at Christie’s in New York on Thursday.

(Christie’s Auction House)

A canvas by Piet Mondrian fetched $50.6 million at a Christie’s sale in New York on Thursday, an auction record for the late modern artist who is famous for his paintings of rectilinear patterns composed of solid colors.

Mondrian’s “Composition No. III, with Red, Blue, Yellow, and Black” had been expected to sell for between $15 million and $25 million. Christie’s said the painting, which dates from 1929, sold after 10 minutes of bidding from six international buyers.

The auction house hasn’t revealed the identities of the seller or buyer, except to say that the painting came from a private European collection. The same canvas fetched $4.2 million at a Christie’s auction in 1997.

Thursday’s auction of Impressionist and modern art featured works from the collection of John C. Whitehead, the former Goldman Sachs chairman who died earlier this year.


Among the works sold from his collection were a 1916 Amadeo Modigliani painting, “Portrait de Béatrice Hastings,” which fetched $16.1 million, and a work by Chaïm Soutine, “La Communiante (La Mariée),” which went for $15.6 million.

Christie’s said the 22 items offered from the Whitehead collection brought in $58.4 million. In all, the auction of 44 works on Thursday realized $202.6 million in sales. The sum includes the buyers’ premiums that the auction house adds to the hammer prices.

The auction capped off a high-profile week for Christie’s, which reported more than $1 billion in sales over a number of auctions.

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