London Auction Activity Round Up

March 3rd, 2008

Sotheby’s via news BBC, Phillips de Pury via Iron Arts, Christie’s via Drexel Daily Digest

This month has been monumentally beneficial to the Contemporary Art Market. Sales rose over 50% within the past three weeks. Over the last month Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips de Pury hosted a series of auctions in London; each producing record breaking results for at least one of their sales.

Auction House’s Revenue Jumps Dramatically [bloomberg]
“Beetle” breaks Russian Contemporary record [bloomberg]
Phillips de Pury Children with AIDs Benefit Auction [ArtInfo]
Breakdown of top February sales [Art Martket Watch]
Review of February Auctions [NY Sun]
GO SEE: Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, London, February 27th [ArtObserved]
Phillips sets 15 artists records in contemporary sale [ArtInfo]
Fontana, Richter and Meire break records [ArtInfo]
Contemporary Russian Art Auction, Phillips de Pury, February 28, London [ArtObserved]
Warhol’s “Three Self Portraits” fetches £11.5 million [CBC]
Competition between Sotheby’s & Christie’s Impressionist & Modern auctions [NY Sun]
Sotheby’s Sets Auction Record with $39.7 million Francis Bacon Nude [ArtObserved]
Sotheby’s Accomplishes Record Quarterly Profits [ArtObserved]

The most valuable lot purchased was Francis Bacon’s “Study of a Nude with Figure in a Mirror,’’ with a hammer price of $37.9 million at Sotheby’s. All three auction houses had their annual post war and impressionist sales, and it was not surprising that the Russian and Chinese Art prices rose. The total amount in sales generated, to date, is £245.7 million. Here is a review of the highlights from February’s Auction House events.

February 27th and 28th had two rivaling auctions, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale on, Bond Street, and the Phillips de Pury Contemporary Art Sale, at Howick Place in Victoria. The sales had records breaking results in Western, Chinese, and Russian Contemporary Art. Sotheby’s and Phillips showed the works of Russian artist Ivan Chuikov, Simon Faibisovich, Oleg Vasiliev, and Natalia Nesterova. Recognizable names such as Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun, Liu Ye, and Yan Pei-Ming resurfaced. Russian collectibles, such as posters sold at record prices.


Russian 1952 Collectible poster via Telegraph

Zhang Xiaogang “Big Family no.1” via artnet magazine

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale turned out to the most successful of all the auction houses this month.The Auction was estimated to make £72 million, before fees. The estimate was less than the revenue made at Christie’s finale February auction on the 6th. The auction generated a total of £95 million, after fees. Zhang Xiaogang “Big Family no.1” sold for £1.7 milion pounds. Warhol’s “Three Self Portraits,” sold for £11.5m to an anonymous buyer. Concetto Spaziale, La Fine Di Dio, by Lucio Fontana sold for over £10 million. The lower estimated price was under £4 million. Works by Andreas Gursky, Gilbert and George, Banksy, and Damian Hirst (all whom have been getting wide press coverage lately) were also sold. The auction house made £264.35 million, including fees, for its Impressionist and contemporary sales, in total.




Andreas Gursky via ny magazine

Andy Warhol “Three Self Image” via BBC News

Phillips de Pury Contemporary Art Sale started their evening with a charity auction benefiting children with AIDS. (Sotheby’s New York, had a similar benefit February 14th.) The benefit had 39 lots offered and sold 34, leaving only five lots bought in, and generated £6,503,500. The auction generated £28,412,300 and set 15 artist records. The total presale estimate was £23.4 – 34 million, qualifying the night’s auction as justified. Llya Kabakov’s “Beetle” sold for £1,450,000 and was estimated between £1.5 and 2.5 million. Her fellow Russian painter, Erik Bulatov’s “Glory to the CPU,” sold for £1,084,500 and was only estimated between £700,000 – 500,000. Western Contemporary artist turned out some surprising underdogs. John Armleder’s “Untitled” (Mirror and Glass) sold for £94,100 and had an underwhelming low estimate of £15 – 20,000. Gerhard Richter photo-painting entitled “Kerze,” (the Sonic Youth album cover) sold for £8 million, with fees to an American collector. It’s estimated value was £1.8 million, (appraisers underestimated the Sonic Youth “fan factor”.) Phillips has begun to show a rise in profits and marketability. It proved itself able to regain Rudolf Stingel’s reputation, by selling his works after Christie’s failed in an earlier February auction.

Erik Bulatov’s “Glory to the CPSU,” via ArtInfo

Ilya Kabakov, “Beetle” via artnet magazine

This Quarter’s top auction seller’s were Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst. At Phillips de Pury’s Contemporary Art sale, Hirst’s 5.18-meter (17-feet) spot painting, “3 – (CHLORO-2-HYDROXPHENYLAZO) – 4,5 – DIHYDROXY – 2,7 – NAPHTHALENEDISULFONIC ACID,” sold for for £1.8 million, including fees. The painting was bought by New York agent Philippe Segalot. The total presale estimate was £1.5 million – 2.5 million. Francis Bacon’s “Study of a Nude with Figure in a Mirror,” sold at a record price of £19,956,500 million with fees. However, non of the lots reached their lower presale estimates. Sotheby’s had a Guarantee on the Bacon, whereas Christie’s did not.

“Study of a Nude with Figure in a Mirror,” Francis Bacon via artobserved

Christie’s Auction Sales weren’t as lucrative this month, as Sotheby’s and Phillip’s events. However, they did make some record breaking sales. They were responsible for the first sale of a Russian collectible ski poster (shown above.) The poster, dated 1952, had an estimated price of £600 and sold for £36,500. Lucio Fontana’s painting, “Spatial Concept, Waiting (Cut)” sold for the hammer price of £6,740,500. The lot had the estimated value of £3.5 – 5.5 million. Christie’s final results for February totaled hirer than 2007. The auction house did not generate as much revenue as the other auction house’s sales and had fewer auctions in total.


Lucio Fontana “Spatial Concept, Waiting” via Italy Magazine


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