July 1st, 2010

Image still from video In the Salesroom: Andy Warhol’s Silver Liz, via

The results of Christie‘s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction in London last night are a relief after this week’s lackluster Sotheby‘s auction and the let-down at Phillips de Pury & Co. on Thursday. The sale earned £45,640,200 against the pre-sale estimate of £40.9-58.1 million for 63 lots, selling 84% by lot and 85% by value (totals realized include buyer’s premium, estimates do not). The combination of higher-quality works, lower starting prices, and a greater variety of material presented is thought to have contributed to the success of the sale, even amidst a drop in the stock market.

More text and images after the jump…

Andy Warhol, Silver Liz, 1963 (estimate £6,000,000 – £8,000,000, realized £6,761,250), via

The most anticipated lot, Andy Warhol‘s  Silver Liz, sold to an anonymous bidder for £6,761,250, within its pre-sale estimate of £6,000,000 – £8,000,000. However, several lots managed to shoot past their pre-sale estimates.

Roy Lichtenstein, Collage for Nude with Red Shirt, 1995 (estimate £600,000 – £800,000, realized £2,729,250)

After another work by the artist failed to sell at the Phillips auction on Thursday night, Roy Lichtenstein‘s Collage for Nude with Red Shirt flew past its high estimate of £800,000, realizing £2,729,250.

Jules de Balincourt, US World Studies II, 2005 (estimate £40,000 – £60,000, realized £277,250), via

A work by Brooklyn-based artist Jules de Balincourt also realized a price well beyond its high estimate of £60,000, selling for £277,250 and setting a record for a work by the artist at auction.

Alighiero Boetti, Mappa, 1989 (estimate: £900,000 – £1,200,000, realized £1,833,250)

Balincourt’s painting seems at least in part derived from the work of another artist represented amongst the works for sale at Christie’s. The artist record for a tapestry by Alighiero Boetti set at Sotheby’s on Monday night with the sale of Mappa for £881,250 was shattered just days later at Christie’s with the sale of another work from the Mappe series that sold for £1,833,250.

Jeff Koons, Loopy, 1999 (estimate £2,500,000 – £3,500,000, realized £3,401,250), via

Yet another artist record was set with the sale of Jeff Koons‘ painting, Loopy, to the artist’s dealer, Larry Gagosian, for £3,401,250. In 2007 Gagosian set the record at the time for the most expensive piece by a living artist ever auctioned by buying Koons’ Hanging Heart sculpture for $23.6 million at Sotheby’s New York.

Alexander Calder, Two Fish Tails, 1975 (estimate £1,200,000 – £1,800,000, realized £1,441,250)

Both of Alexander Calder‘s mobiles sold to London art dealer Ezra Nahmad, who paid £1,441,250 for Two Fish Tails and £1,385,250 for Black and Yellow Dots in the Air.

The Christie’s auction was a happy ending to the week’s Contemporary Art auctions in London. The biggest of all three major sales, only 10 lots failed to sell. This year’s auction was a success especially compared to the equivalent sale last year, which realized £19.1 million for 41 lots estimated to bring £17.4-24 million. The hope now is that the trend continues and that sales continue to get bigger and better.

-J. Mizrachi

Related links:
Christie’s London Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction []
Warhol Sells, Koons Painting Sets Record in $68.2 Million Sale []
Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction at Christie’s in London Realises $68.6 Million []
With Liz Vamping for $10 Million, Christie’s Takes the Crown of London Auction Week []
Novelty Sets Cheerful Tone for Christie’s Contemporary Auction []