F rom selling the world-famous Magritte Empire des lumières painting to opening our new office together with Sotheby’s International Realty in Brussels, it’s safe to say that 2022 has been an incredible year. Looking back on the team's achievements and proudest moments of the year, we’re excited to share the highlights of the past pivotal year for Sotheby’s Belgium.
On 2 March, was sold the world record Magritte’s 1961 painting L’empire des lumières, property from The Gillion Crowet Collection, for €71.4 million. The Belgian painting was sold during the Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction in London and is one of the ten most expensive artworks sold in 2022.
This year was also the occasion for us to move forward by bringing together Sotheby’s Realty and Sotheby’s Auction in the same offices on Avenue Louise 251. This move has been a sign of renewal and growth. These offices became a place where we learn, celebrate and share. Events, masterclasses, exhibitions, valuation days and retrospectives have been and will be held, providing a unique experience for our clients and the Sotheby’s Auction and Realty team.
'The expansion of Sotheby’s presence here is a physical expression of its commitment to the Belgian market'
On 4 May, we gathered for the official grand opening of this new 1,300 square metre space, including galleries with expansive windows across the first and second floors with over a thousand clients joining us for a festive cocktail celebration.
'The expansion of Sotheby’s presence here is a physical expression of its commitment to the Belgian market, and the ever-increasing activity of clients as buyers and sellers on the global art scene,' says Emmanuel van de Putte, Managing Director at Sotheby’s Belgium. 'The art community today is more dynamic than ever. As we have always had an excellent relationship with Sotheby’s International Realty in Belgium, it seemed natural to approach them and collaborate by merging our respective expertise.'
Following the opening, Sotheby’s Realty entered a partnership with the Maison Cauchie, one of Belgium’s most important Art Nouveau buildings, from where we sourced an entire comic-strip collection. A selection of original drawings and illustrations from the collection will be on view in the Brussels gallery from the 7–14 February 2023, and comprise a part of the Prints sale in Paris on 28 February. This marks an exciting new collaboration between Sotheby's Realty and Auction divisions.
On 7 September, the Luxury Edit exhibition private view took place, spanning works of art to jewellery and leather goods. We noted two Cartier panther rings and a marquise-cut diamond, some exclusive watches such as the Rolex Daytona and GMT, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, with models created by Gérald Genta, two Royal Oak and a Nautilus, numerous Birkin bags from Hermès and fine wines.
On the wall of the gallery during the Luxury Edit exhibition, there were numerous paintings by the Greek artist Pericles Pantazis, in the November Paris 'Tableaux Dessins Sculptures 1300-1900' sale. The fifteen Belgian-sourced paintings sold for record breaking prices, reinvigorating the market for this notable 19th century artist. Among those paintings was La jeune femme au Parasol, which had been estimated at €10,000-15,000 and sold for €63,000, the top Pantazis lot of the sale.
We ended the year with our first selling exhibition, featuring the exceptional work of Stephan Vanfleteren, a Belgian contemporary photographer. Represented in collaboration with the Fifty One Gallery, based in Antwerp, Belgium, the Catching Light, Freezing Time exhibition opened on 11 October, with over forty works by the artist, and proved to be a significant success with our clientele. The collection of photographs included penetrating black and white portraits, a series of still lifes depicting various species of wild animals and some shots from his early years in photojournalism.
Other top sales of the year include The Flute Player by Boucher, a Pastoral Rococo themed painting which sold for €630,000, and the Eloa, Sister of the Angels white marble sculpture by Joseph-Michel-Ange Pollet which sold for £378,000 from a Noble Private Collection in Belgium and was the top lot of the sale. A blanc de Chine figure of Guanyin and Child from the 17th-18th century was estimated at €4,000–6,000 and sold for €302,400, while a Bulgari Trombino ring sold for more than a million Swiss Francs.
All these results and activity reflect the extraordinary work of not only our local team, but reflect the broader support from our global network. We are looking forward to 2023, with various exciting exhibitions and sales in the pipeline for this coming year.