The auction was centered around Marc Chagall’s Le Père (1911), one of many artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II, and one of fifteen artworks recently restituted to family heirs by the French government. Le Père was taken in 1940 from David Cender, a Polish musical instrument maker, before he and his family were sent to Auschwitz. Chagall reacquired the painting in 1966, and his estate donated it to the Parisian National Museum of Modern Art in 1988. It was on view at the Museum of Art and History of Judaism for the last twenty-four years. Returned to the Cender family this past April, the painting is the first of the fifteen restituted artworks to go to auction. A rare example of his early work, Le Père is a loving portrait of Chagall’s father and was one of the artist’s favorite pieces. The painting sold for $7,404,500 USD.
Painted in 2005, Cy Twombly’s colossal Untitled, part of his Bacchus series, illustrates the buoyant vitality and potential rage brought on by intoxication, with a riotous explosion of red looping ellipses against a white background. The painting also references the moment in the Iliad when Achilles kills Hector and drags his corpse around the walls of Troy. Sixteen feet wide, it is one of the largest of Twombly’s works to be auctioned. Twombly’s work has been incredibly popular on the auction circuit, and this piece inspired very active bidding.