AO Auction Results: Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale, London, Thursday, February 5, 2009, Richter, Koons and Fontana lead robust results

February 8th, 2009

Stacked (1988) by Jeff Koons; Sold for £2,841,250 ($4,136,939) against estimates of £2,200,000 – £3,200,000 ($3,215,434 – $4,676,995). Image via Artnet.

Sotheby’s contemporary art evening sale concluded this week’s auctions on a high note, as 25 of 27 lots by Lucio Fontana, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, among others, were sold to collectors taking advantage of the art market’s price correction. The auction attracted relatively brisk bidding on several of the lots on offer, with over 200 clients registering to participate in the auction.

The sale realized a total of £17,879,250 ($25,785,250), solidly within the estimate of £16.5-23.1 million, selling 92.6% by lot–one of the highest ever achieved for a February contemporary art auction at Sotheby’s–and 90.7% by value. 24% of buyers were from the US, with 48% European, 12% Middle East, and 16% Asian being the breakdown for the remainder.

The lot featured on the catalogue cover, Concetto Spaziale by Lucio Fontana, was the highest priced lot, although it sold for £4.4 million ($6.4 million), or 12% below its £5 million ($7.3 million) low estimate. The painting is part of the 22-piece Venezia series, conceived and executed in 1961 by Fontana, widely considered to be Italy’s foremost post-war artist. While the lot was bought below the low estimate, it still set a record for a painting from the Venezia series. It was bought directly from the artist shortly after its execution and resided in a private collection for over 45 years, never shown in public during that period.

Successful auction sales calm jittery art market [Financial Times]
‘Rediscovered’ art fetches £4.4m [ BBC]
Koons, Fontana Works Sell in Smaller London Art Sale [Bloomberg]
A Svelte Sale Yields Positive Results at Sotheby’s [ArtInfo]
Sotheby’s February 2009 Contemporary Art Evening Sale Achieves $25,785,250 [Art Daily]

Stacked, a sculpture in polychrome wood by Jeff Koons, was the second highest priced lot, selling for 16 times the price paid the last time it was on auction in 1997. The sculpture, which features several animals stacked on top of each other, sold for £2.8 million ($4 million) against a pre-sale estimate of £2.2 million to £3.2 million, attracting bids from 2 telephone bidders and one in-room buyer, who eventually won the lot. One of three editions, it belongs to the Banality series of sculptures which made Koons famous in the late 1980s.

Troisdorf, by Gerhard Richter, also sold well, going for £2.1 million against estimates of £1.5 million to £2 million. Troisdorf is a painting of pastures and trees in a style reminiscent of the German Romantics, but using Richter’s technique of photorealistic painting. It is also considered a precursor to one of his more famous pieces, Wiesental, which is currently in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection in New York.

Untitled (1996) by Anish Kapoor; Sold for £982,050 against estimates of £500,000 – £700,000 ($730,780 – $1,023,092). Image via Artnet.

Anish Kapoor’s untitled polished stainless steel sculpture, which was displayed for the first time in 1996 at the Kunst-Station St Paul at Cologne, sold for £982 thousand, handily surpassing its £500 thousand to £700 thousand estimate range. Andy Warhol’s silk screen and acrylic portrait of Mick Jagger sold for £797 thousand against an estimate £500 thousand to £700 thousand, while his triptcyh Three Portraits (in 3 parts) sold for £892 thousand, £142 thousand above its £550 thousand to £750 thousand range.

Cementing what many have considered a partial return to form, the past week’s auctions set a much more upbeat tone for the remaining postwar, contemporary, impressionist, and modern auctions in New York and London this week.

Concetto Spaziale (from the Venezia series) (1961) by Lucio Fontana; Sold for £4,409,250 ($6,419,991) against estimates of £5,000,000 – £7,000,000 ($7,307,804 – $10,230,926). Image via Artnet.

Mick Jagger (1975) by Andy Warhol; Sold for £797,250 ($1,160,818) against estimates of £500,000 – £700,000 ($730,780 – $1,023,092). Image via Artnet.

Untitled (Mask series) (1998) by Zeng Fanzhi; Sold for £601,250 ($875,436) against estimates of £300,000 – £400,000 ($438,468 – $584,624). Image via Artnet.

Troisdorf (1985) by Gerhard Richter; Sold for £2,113,250 ($3,076,951) against estimates of £1,500,000 – £2,000,000 ($2,192,341 – $2,923,121).  Image via Artnet.

Dark Days (2008) by Damien Hirst; Sold for £361,250 ($525,990), against estimates of £250,000 – £350,000 ($365,390 – $511,546). Image via Artnet.

Untitled (1983) by Keith Haring; Sold for £277,250 ($403,683) against estimates of £200,000 – £300,000 ($292,312 – $438,468).  Image via Artnet.