AO Auction Results: Sotheby’s New York Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Posts Anemic Results

May 13th, 2009

Martin Kippenberger’s ‘Untitled’ via Sotheby’s sold for $4.1 million, falling within estimates of $3.5-4.5 million and setting a new record at auction for the artist.

Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale resulted in another disappointment for the beleaguered auction house following last week’s thin Impressionist and Modern Art sales. Total sales were estimated at $51.8-72.4 million for 49 lots, but the total came up short at $47 million, with 9 lots failing to sell. However, the auction is not viewed as disastrous, considering Sotheby’s put very little money up front, and the star of the show, a Jeff Koons sculpture from his ‘Celebration’ series, did manage to sell, unlike at last week’s auction.  However, ‘Baroque Egg With Bow (Turquoise/Magenta)’ fell short of its $6 million low-estimate, selling for $5.4 million to Larry Gagosian.  The piece was put up by hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, who originally bought it from Gagosian in 2004 for what is believed to be around $3 million.

While the dollar amounts were nothing compared to a year ago, the auction did sell 81.2% of its lots, with 78.1% of total value realized. Still, the auction comes on the heels of Sotheby’s 1st quarterly earnings report, posting a loss of $66.7 million with the market looking tepid for some time to come.

Sotheby’s Sale Fails to Meet Low Expectations [WSJ]
In ‘a Recalibrated Market,’ Auction Buyers Take Over [NY Times]
Bidders respond to lower prices for contemporary art [Reuters]
Sotheby’s Contemporary Sale Solid but Subdued
Loeb Sells Koons Egg for $5.5 Million at Sotheby’s in New York [Bloomberg]
Sotheby’s Tax Benefit Offsets Average Daily Loss of $1 Million [Bloomberg]
Sotheby’s shares tumble after weak auction [Crain’sNewYork]

Christopher Wool’s ‘Untitled’ via Sotheby’s sold for $1.8 million, within estimates of $1.5-2 million and setting a new record at auction for the artist.

Robert Gober’s untitled sculpture of a man’s buttocks printed with a music score failed to sell against estimates of $2.5-3.5 million.  But there were a number of bright spots. An untitled painting by Martin Kippenberger sold for $4.1 million, setting a new record for the artist, and falling with estimates of $3.5-4.5 million. A text-based painting by Christopher Wool also set a new record for that artist, selling for $1.8 million, again, within estimates.  Both of those works had been secured by third-parties before the sale. But the most exciting lot of the night was Alexander Calder’s sculpture ‘Ebony Sticks in Semi-Circle,’ estimated to sell for $1-1.5 million. Ultimately selling to an anonymous telephone bidder, the sculpture had the attention of a number of bidders, including collector Eli Broad.

Robert Gober’s ‘Untitled’ via Sotheby’s failed to sell against estimates of $2.5-3.5 million.

Jeff Koons’s ‘Baroque Egg With Bow (Turquoise/Magenta)’ via Sotheby’s sold for $5.4 million, below estimates of $6-8 million

Alexander Calder’s ‘Ebony Sticks in Semi-Circle’ via Sotheby’s sold for $3.4 million, far above estimates of $1-1.5 million.