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Constantin Brancusi, La muse endormie (1913)

La muse endormie, a bronze egg-shaped sculpture of a head whose partially gilded surface has a matte, mottled effect, in contrast to Brancusi’s well-known sleek and polished bronzes, handily beat its estimate between $25 million and $35 million. It sold for $57.3 million at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale in May and set a new record for the artist. The auction house’s website indicated that this lot was secured with a third-party guarantee, the late addition of which likely raised the estimate from its initial $20 million to $30 million that had been indicated in the printed auction catalogue.

Fernand Léger, Contraste de formes (1913)

Like the van Gogh painting, Léger’s Contraste de formes also went up for sale without a guarantee in New York’s November sale at Christie’s, following an embarrassment at the house’s early October London sale when a star lot, a 1971 Francis Bacon painting, failed to reach its reserve and went unsold in the absence of a guarantee. Léger’s canvas, painted at a pivotal moment in the artist’s career, not only sold for $70 million, but smashed the record for the artist, previously set at $39.2 million by La femme en bleu (study) (1912–13) at a 2008 sale at Sotheby’s in New York.