Art Work by Israel's Yaacov Agam Sells for Record-breaking Sum in N.Y.

In an auction organized by Sotheby's, 'Growth' sets a new high for sales price received by any Israeli artist in history.

NEW YORK - The auction of Israeli and international art organized by Sotheby's New York last Wednesday set a new record for any Israeli artist, living or dead: "Growth," by Yaacov Agam, sold for $698,000, including commission. The presale estimates for the work, done in oil on a wood panel, ranged from $150,000 to $250,000 (also including commission).

Seventy-two percent (82 of 114 items) on offer were sold at the auction, for a total of $3.45 million. The highest presale estimate of the total had been $3.7 million.

Tomer Appelbaum

At another Sotheby's New York auction, in November 2009, Agam broke the record for a work by a living Israeli artist when his "4 Themes Contrepoint" was sold for $326,500. The previous price record for the work of any Israeli artist was set by Mordecai Ardon's "Timepecker," which was sold at auction by Christie's in Tel Aviv for $643,200.

Agam, who was in the auction hall during the sale, received a round of applause when the gavel fell. Last year, when his previous record was set, he told Haaretz, "This does not amaze me ... My prices will go up, in keeping with the history I made in the art world."

"Growth" is a salient example of Agam's outsize kinetic paintings. It was shown at a 1980 retrospective of the artist's works at New York's Guggenheim Museum.

Also fetching high prices at last week's auction were Marc Chagall's "Moise et Le Veau d' Or," which had a presale estimate of $180,000-$250,000 and sold for $218,500, and "Landscape of Galilee" by Reuven Rubin, which sold for $188,500 - more than double its high presale estimate. "Eight Positive Trees," a sculpture by Menashe Kadishman which is currently on display in Tel Aviv's Dubnov Garden, was not sold. Its presale estimate was $120,000-$180,00.

Other records were also set for works by contemporary artists Tsibi Geva, Maya Gold and Gal Weinstein.

Says Sotheby's Israel managing director Sigal Mordechai: "The sale was very successful in the areas of both modern and contemporary Israeli art. There was lively participation from both Israeli and American collectors."