One of Vincent van Gogh's last landscapes, considered a highlight among this year's fall art offerings, has failed to sell at auction.
"The Fields (Wheat Fields)" had been expected to sell for between $28 million and $35 million (EUR19 million and EUR24 million), Sotheby's said before the Wednesday evening sale.
The work, painted in early July 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, may be the last landscape painted by van Gogh, who died later that month. The painting hung above the artist's bed as he lay dying at a French inn.
Another highlight of the auction house's sale of Impressionist and modern art, Paul Gauguin's "Te Poipoi" ("The Morning"), also failed to meet its projected price, selling for $39.24 million (EUR26.76 million). The portrait of a Tahitian woman had been expected to sell for $40 million to $60 million (EUR27 million to EUR41 million).
Pablo Picasso's 31.5-inch (80-centimeter) sculpture of artist Dora Maar - his muse, model and lover - fared better, selling for $29.16 million (EUR19.88 million) and setting a record for a sculpture by the artist at auction, Sotheby's said. Its presale estimate was $20 million to $30 million (EUR13 million to EUR20 million).
Citing disappointments at the auction, two analysts downgraded Sotheby's stock Thursday and said the domestic art market was slowing. Sotheby's shares dropped more than 28 percent.
David Norman, a chairman of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Department Worldwide, cited other reasons for the results of the auction, which he said brought in the auction house's third-highest total ever.
The sale "saw a market which very clearly responded to attractive, historically important property that was estimated in line with its expectations and resisted property that didn't fit that criteria," he said in a statement.
The sale prices included the auction house's commission.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969