AO Auction Results: Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s in London on Thursday, June 25, 2009 – Total sales near top of estimates

June 26th, 2009

Andy Warhol - MRS. MCCARTHY AND MRS. BROWN (TUNAFISH DISASTER)
Andy Warhol’s ‘Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Brown (Tunafish Disaster)’ sold for £3.7 million against estimates of £3.5-4.5 million, via Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London yesterday realized £25.5 million, near the top of its estimates of £19.8-27.4, with one of the highest ever sell-through rates as only 3 of the 40 lots went unsold. The pared down sale is only a quarter of the value of last June’s sale, but along with solid results at Christie’s and Sotheby’s Impressionist sales earlier this week and brisk sales at Art Basel two weeks ago, the art market appears to have hit its bottom and has started to stabilize.  However, the highest selling lot was Andy Warhol’s ‘Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Brown (Tunafish Disaster),’ selling for just £3.7 million, at the low end of estimates of £3.5-4.5 million, nowhere near the blockbuster prices of a year ago.

Contemporary Evening Sale [Sotheby’s]
Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction Realised $41.9 Million in London [Artdaily]
Buyers for Warhol and Calder [NY Times]
Warhol Sales Make $10.5 Million as Sotheby’s Turns to Big Names [Bloomberg]
Slim and Conservative, Sotheby’s Sale Proves a Winner [Artinfo]
The London Art Scene Feels a Chill [Wall Street Journal]

Alexander Calder - A CINQ MORCEAUX DE BOIS
Alexander Calder’s ‘A Cinq Morceaux de Bois’ sold for £2.6 million, far above its estimates of £1.2-1.8 million, via Sotheby’s

Many of the works offered in the sale were by older, established artists, and many had never been offered at auction before. Two other Warhol pieces, ‘Diamond Dust Shoes’ and ‘Hammer and Sickle,’ brought in £634,850 and £2 million, respectively, bring the Warhol total to £6.3 million.  Bidding throughout the sale was mainly restrained, but Alexander Calder’s ‘A Cinq Morceaux de Bois’ elicited some competition, selling for £2.6 million, more than double its low estimate of £1.2 million.  Peter Doig’s ‘Almost Grown,’ the catalogue cover lot, also bested estimates, going for £2.1 million. ‘Untitled (Dervish)’ set a new record at auction for Julie Mehretu, selling for £241,250, within estimates of £200,000-300,000.

Peter Doig - Almost Grown
Peter Doig’s ‘Almost Grown’ sold £2.1 million, beating estimates of £1.4-1.8 million, via Sotheby’s

Another success was Jean Dubuffet’s ‘Arabe Au Fusil,’ which sold for £903,650  against estimates of £500,000-700,000.  One of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s last works, ‘Exu,’ sold for £1.27 million, at the high end of estimates of £1.1-1.3 million. While May’s Contemporary auctions avoided artists considered endemic of inflationary speculations such as Damien Hirst or Takashi Murakami, there were a number of Hirst pieces up for sale this time, with a butterfly painting, ‘Homage to a Government, the Dwelling Place,’ selling for £657,250, within estimates of £500,000-800,000.  Overall, the sale had a rate of 92.5% sold by lot and a sold-by-value rate of 97.2%.

Julie Mehretu - UNTITLED (DERVISH)
Julie Mehretu’s ‘Untitled (Dervish)’ sold for £241,250, within estimates of £200,000-300,000 and setting a new record at auction for the artist, via Sotheby’s

Jean-Michel Basquiat - Exu
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Exu’ sold for £1.27 million, just under its high estimate of £1.3 million, via Sotheby’s

Andy Warhol - Hammer and Sickle
Andy Warhol’s ‘Hammer and Sickle’ sold for £2 million, falling at the low end of estimates of £2-3 million, via Sotheby’s