Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1953 (est. unpublished, realized $28.6 million), via Christies.com
Christie’s sale of Contemporary art on Tuesday night realized $127 million for 53 lots sold. The total, which fell just above the high estimate of $125 million once fees were added, is the highest for any sale at Christie’s in Europe since the boom of June 2008. The top lot was a Francis Bacon self portrait that shows a man sitting in a throne-like chair wearing a suit and glasses. The painting sold for $28.6 million against an unpublished estimate rumored to be about $17 million. A self portrait by the artist sold for $25 million at Christie’s spring sale in New York .
A Warhol portrait of Mao Zedong brought the evening’s second highest price. The painting depicts Chairman Mao’s head in a sea of the artist’s brushstrokes. It brought in $11.1 million against estimates of $9.6-12.8 million.
Records were set for five artists, including Juan Muñoz and Ron Mueck. Muñoz’s four piece bronze sculpture set his record when it sold for $5.4 million. Mueck’s hyper-realistic Big Baby was one of several lots being sold by Kay Saatchi, collector and ex-wife of Charles Saatchi. The work just beat its high estimate of $1.2 million after fees were added and set the artist’s auction record at $1.3 million.
Ms. Saatchi was also selling five drawings by Lucian Freud, four of which show dead or sleeping animals. The drawings all soared past their high estimates. The most sought after of the bunch, showing a (sleeping or dead, it’s unclear) rabbit on a chair, sold for $1.7 million against estimates of $460,000-600,000. Later in the sale the same buyer reportedly bought Freud’s Woman Smiling for $7.6 million.
Perhaps the evening’s biggest success was Peter Doig‘s Red Boat (Imaginary Boys). The lush canvas was painted in 2003-04, two years after Doig returned to live in Trinidad. It was estimated to sell for as much as $2.7 million but was purchased for nearly four times that amount. The $9.9 million paid for the work almost matched the artist’s record, which was set at $10.1 million at Christie’s New York in 2009.
Wednesday night Sotheby’s wraps up the week with their Contemporary art evening sale. Check back for results.
Christie’s Results [Christie's]
Christie’s Contemporary Art Sale Signals Continued Strength in Market [NYT]
Francis Bacon, Peter Doig Paintings Soar at $126 Million Christie’s Sale [Bloomberg]
Francis Bacon work fetches $29 million at auction [Reuters]
A Looming Francis Bacon and Kay Saatchi’s Art Lifted Christie’s to a Rousing $125.8 Million Contemporary Sale in London [ARTINFO]
Things Are Looking Up [The Art Newspaper]