AO Onsite Auction Results – New York: Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale Brings in $128M; Record Set for Felix Gonzalez-Torres

May 11th, 2011

Felix Gonzales-Torres, Untitled (Aparición), 1991 (est. $600,000-800,000, realized $1.65 million). All images via

Tuesday evening’s auction of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s New York brought in $128 million for forty-nine of fifty-eight lots sold. The sale’s estimate of $120.8-171.4 million included two lots that were withdrawn from the sale. Inclusive of the buyer’s premium, the night’s earnings barely passed the low presale estimate (prices realized include the buyer’s premium, estimates do not), and the results stood in stark contrast to Monday night’s sale at Sotheby’s of works from the collection of Allan Stone, which realized $54.8 million against a high estimate of $46.8 million. At the press conference auctioneer Tobias Meyer explained that estimates were “possibly aggressive” and that Sotheby’s had worked with sellers in reevaluating their expectations in response to the market, which in some cases meant lowering the reserve price. The sale’s top two lots – Sixteen Jackies by Andy Warhol and Jeff KoonsPink Panther – both fetched respectable prices despite the fact that they fell short of presale estimates.

Andy Warhol, Sixteen Jackies, 1964 (est. $20-30 million, realized $20.2 million)

More text and images after the jump…

Jeff KoonsPink Panther, 1988 (est. $20-30 million, realized $16.8 million)

A highlight of the evening was Felix Gonzalez-Torres‘ stack of cloud posters that set a record for a work on paper by the artist when it sold to Philippe Ségalot for $1.65 million against a high estimate of $800,000. The catalogue lists the medium for this work as “print on paper, endless copies,” and the lot includes a digital file for reproducing the stack, which is meant to be depleted by viewers.

Andy Warhol, Shadow (Red), 1978 (est. $700,000-$900,000, realized $4.8 million)

Installed behind the rostrum, Andy Warhol’s Shadow (Red) saw the most spirited bidding of all seven Warhol lots offered on Tuesday night and was one of two that performed better than expected. The 1978 canvas carried a high estimate of $900,000 and was chased by several bidders, including Jose Mugrabi and Christophe Van de Weghe, before being sold for $4.8 million.

Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1965 (est. $6-8 million, realized $6.2 million)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Eroica I, 1988 (est. $3.5-4.5 million, realized $5.9 million)

Among the top five lots were Basquiat‘s Eroica I and Lucio Fontana‘s Concetto Spaziale. While buyers never seem to tire of Fontana’s slashed canvases, bidding began at $4.5 million and ended at $5.5 million for the large white work on offer Tuesday night that carried a low presale estimate of $6 million. Basquiat’s Eroica I inspired more activity and sold to Jose Mugrabi for $5.9 million, above its $3.5-5.5 million estimate.

Ed Ruscha, Honey…I Twisted Through More Damned Traffic to Get Here, 1984 (est. $3.5-4.5 million, bought in)

Notable lots that were bought in include works by Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, and Isamu Noguchi. Wednesday night rival auction house Christie’s stages its Contemporary sale, headlined by a red and black Warhol self-portrait. The week’s auctions end on Thursday night at Phillips de Pury. Follow ArtObserved on Twitter for live tweeting at the auctions and check back here for results.

-J. Mizrachi

Related links:

Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Sale Results [Sotheby's]
Not Even Warhol Can Liven a Slow Night at Sotheby’s [New York Times]
Bidders Proceed With Caution at Sotheby’s Sale [Wall Street Journal]
Top Works Disappoint at Sotheby’s $128 million Sale [Reuters]