AO Auction Preview: Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury to Hold Contemporary Art Auctions This Week in London During Frieze Art Fair

October 13th, 2010

Damien Hirst, I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds, 2006 (est. 2.5-3.5 million GBP), via

The Frieze Art Fair begins this week in London and is accompanied by Contemporary Art sales at the three major auction houses. This year, Phillips de Pury will kick things off with a 56 lot evening sale on October 13th, followed by a 51 lot sale at Christie’s on the 14th and a 40 lot sale at Sotheby’s on the 15th. After the dismal results of last year’s equivalent sales and the lackluster results of the summer sales, the art world is hoping that these auctions will give a stronger indication that the market for contemporary Western art is in fact recovering.

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David H0ckney, Autumn Pool, 1978 (est 700,000 – 1 million GBP), via

While Phillips is offering the greatest number of lots for sale, it carries the lowest presale estimate of the three auctions. Fifty-six lots are estimated to bring between 8.3 – 13.3 million GBP, with one lot carrying a high presale estimate of 1 million GBP. David Hockney‘s Autumn Pool is the featured lot and is estimated to bring 700,000 – 1 million GBP.

Andy Warhol, The Scream (after Edvard Munch), 1984 (est. 500,000-700,000 GBP), via

Andy Warhol’s The Scream carries the second highest presale estimate, with hopes it will fetch between 500,000-700,000 GBP. The work is one of only five iterations of Warhol’s take on Munch’s iconic painting to be executed on canvas.

Maurizio Cattelan, Una Domenica a Rivara, 1992 (est. 400,000-600,000 GBP), via

A piece by the Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan, photographed here at Phillips headquarters in London, is another top lot at the sale with an estimate of 400,000-600,000 GBP.

No lot has generated more buzz than Damien Hirst‘s 2006 piece titled I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds. The work, which is for sale at Christie’s this week, is made entirely of dead butterfly wings and is estimated to bring between 2.5 – 3.5 million GBP. While this lot will probably not shatter the record for a Hirst at auction, the 17 foot canvas is the most valuable work by the artist to have appeared at auction since 2008, and is the lot with the highest presale estimate in all three auctions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Negro Period, 1986 (est. 1.2 – 1.8 million GBP), via

Nicolas de Staël, Nature morte en gris, 1955 (est. 1 – 1.5 million GBP), via

Other top lots at Christie’s include Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s Negro Period and Nicolas de Staël’s Nature morte en gris, each with low estimates over 1 million GBP.

Zeng Fanzhi, Pope, 2005 (est. 300,000-400,000 GBP), via

Another lot to watch at Christie’s is Zeng Fanzhi‘s Pope, estimated to bring 300,000-400,000 GBP. An earlier work by the artist sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong last week for 16.9 million HKD against a high estimate of 15 million HKD. The Christie’s sale carries a low estimate of 15.9 million GBP and a high estimate of 22.7 million GBP.

Andy Warhol, Diamond Dust Shoes, 1980 (est. 1.3 -1.6 million GBP), via

The Sotheby’s sale carries a low estimate of 10 million GBP for 40 lots. Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes leads the sale with a presale estimate of 1.3 – 1.6 million GBP. This canvas is one of three Warhols to be amongst the ten lots with the highest presale estimates at the Sotheby’s sale.

Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1965 (est. 650,000-850,000 GBP), via

Frank Auerbach, Head of Helen Gillespie IV, 1965 (est. 700,000-900,000 GBP), via

Andy Warhol’s Flowers takes third place, bested by Frank Auerbach‘s Head of Helen Gillespie IV, which carries a presale estimate of 700,000-900,000 GBP.

Lucian Freud, Eight Months Gone, 1997 (est. 300,000-400,000 GBP), via

As we previously reported, the Sotheby’s sale will also include 14 lots from the collection of Jerry Hall, model and former wife of Mick Jagger. The most anticipated of these lots is a portrait by Lucian Freud, painted when Hall was eight months pregnant.

By comparison, Sotheby’s enormous 233 lot Frieze Fair auction last year  brought in 12.7 million GBP, Christie’s 25 lot auction brought in just over 11 million GBP, and the 45 lot Phillips auction brought in 4.1 million GBP. Check back for continued  coverage of the auction results.

-J. Mizrachi

Related links:

Phillips de Pury e-Catalog [Phillips de Pury]
Christie’s e-Catalog [Christie's]
Sotheby’s e-Catalog [Sotheby's]
Spot the New Hirst as Frieze’s $375 Million Art Tests Demand [Bloomberg]
UK’s Frieze fair puts art market recovery to test [Reuters]
Warhol, Hirst to Boost $76 Million Test of Art Market [Bloomberg]