Sotheby’s announced today that it has withdrawn a major work from its Impressionist and modern art sale this evening, Henri Matisse’s Nus de Dos (1er état) statue, which was expected to sell for between $20 million and $30 million, saying it has found a private buyer for the work. The move follows a dismal debut for the fall auction season at Christie’s last night in which a bronze statue by Edgar Degas—which, like the Matisse, had been used in many promotional materials for the auction—failed to sell.
The Matisse was one in a series of four, and Sotheby’s had decided to take the works to auction individually only after it had failed to find a private buyer. The house says it has now found a buyer for all four. The press statement on the withdrawal reads in its entirety:
“November 2, 2011 — Yesterday afternoon, The Burnett Foundation withdrew Henri Matisse’s masterpieces, Les Nus de Dos (The Backs) from auction at Sotheby’s in order to conclude a private sale transaction brokered by Sotheby’s on the entire group of 4 sculptures. Both the buyer and the purchase price will remain confidential.”
Sotheby’s declined to provide any details about the buyer, including whether or not it was a collector or an institution. The total estimate for the entire sale this evening is now $167.56 million to $229.87 million.