Still life by Emil Filla sets new world auction record

LOS ANGELES — Seasoned collectors and new bidders from across the United States and around the globe vied for Modern, Contemporary and Latin American works of art at Bonhams & Butterfields on Nov. 17, 2009, in Los Angeles. Simulcast to the firm’s San Francisco auction rooms, the more than 200-lot auction attracted strong buyer interest for a variety of high quality works by well-known artists.

Highlights from the well rounded fall auction included pieces by Emil Filla, Maurice Utrillo, Pedro Coronel, Alexander Archipenko, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Jack Bush, Tom Wesselmann, Amedeo Modigliani and Jim Dine, among others. Sales totaled more than $2 million with a new world auction record established for a painting by Emil Filla.

“We are pleased by yesterday’s strong sale results. Several works by established artists sparked intense bidding throughout many sections of the auction. Two such works were Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s Maggy, 1912, which attracted bidders from the United States and Europe, and Emil Filla’s Still life with a lemon, bottle of olive oil, bell peppers and a bowl of vegetables, 1925, which sold for $266,000 against a pre-auction estimate of $15,000-$20,000 and established a new world auction record for the artist at auction,” said Sharon Goodman Squires, newly appointed Specialist in Modern & Contemporary Art at Bonhams & Butterfields.

The marquee lot of the auction was Still life with a lemon, bottle of olive oil, bell peppers and a bowl of vegetables, 1925 by Czech modernist Emil Filla, which sold for $266,000 – the highest price ever paid for a work by the artist at auction. The oil on canvas painting displays thick impasto brushwork, which is used to outline the highly stylized and abstracted items on the table.

Additional highlights from the Modern section of the sale included a French street scene titled Bourg-la-Reine by Maurice Utrillo (sold for $91,500); a female bronze figure titled Flat Torso by Alexander Archipenko (sold for $67,100); an abstract bust of a woman titled Maggy, by Raymond Duchamp-Villon (sold for $67,100) and a pencil drawing of a man titled Léon Solà, 1916-1917 by Amedeo Modigliani (sold for $54,900).

An excellent and cohesive selection of Latin American art was also featured during the November auction. Among the highlights were two large colorful abstract Untitled oil on canvas pieces by Pedro Coronel. Each piece, one painted in hues of pink and green and the other in blue and green, brought $79,300 each.

The auction catalog’s cover lot, Study for a Blue Nude, 2000 by Tom Wesselmann also generated excitement among collectors and connoisseurs. A classic example of the artist’s style from his iconic “Blue Nude Series,” the painting was characterized by the closely controlled style. Rare to auction, the petite ‘jewel-like’ painting sold for $61,000.

(John, Paul, George, Ringo and the Beatles), 1968 by Jim Dine was also among the highlights of the fall auction. Originally commissioned by Capitol Records for a Beatles album which was never made, the graphite and watercolor on vellum lot of five works depict individual toothbrushes labeled for each member of the iconic band: John, Paul, George and Ringo. The pieces, which brought $51,850, had been in the private collection of former president of Capital Records, Sal Iannucci, and his wife Aileen.

For more information on this and other Bonhams & Butterfields auctions, visit

Photo courtesy Bonhams & Butterfields.


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