Last night in London, Sotheby’s demonstrated a sound Contemporary Art Evening Sale, with sales totaling £69 million, against an estimate of £57-82 million. They possessed a good sell-through rate at 87.3% by lot and 93.4% by value. In a press release, Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby’s Chairman of Contemporary Art Europe, was quoted: “The auction this evening was led by blue-chip artists, such as Bacon, Basquiat, Richter and Lichtenstein… With buyers from 15 different countries, the global demand for this area of the market continues to be underlined.” Despite the overall formidable sales of last night, Sotheby’s did not receive quite the same reception as it did in its evening auction in New York in the Spring.
The star of the sale was Glenn Brown‘s The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dalí (After John Martin) - with a record price of £5.2 million - making it the second highest grossing lot of the night. This is three times more than Brown’s previous record price at auction. There was strong bidding for this painting, which was recently exhibited in his retrospective at Tate Liverpool, in addition to being prestigiously shown in his Turner Prize exhibition.
The top lot of the evening belonged to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Warrior at £5.6 million. This large, colorful, and aggressive image of one of Basquiat’s solitary men grasping a sword was estimated at £5 – 7 million. The hammer price is double the amount it sold for in 2007, when the piece was last up for auction.
Francis Bacon‘s Study For A Self Portrait sold for £4.5 million, at the low end of its estimated £5 -7 million. Yet, this small study of the artist’s face was the third grossing lot of the evening. Head, another Bacon piece auctioned, also sold for less than expected, achieving £993,250 against it’s estimated £1 – 1.8 million.
Two of the Gerhard Richter‘s offered last night earned spots among the top ten lots. Richter’s somber landscape Jerusalem earned a price of £4.24 million, within its anticpated £3 – 5 million estimate. His abstract painting, Abstraktes Bild (687-4) (1989), earned £2.8 million against an expected £2.5 – 3.5 million.
There were three consecutive lots that belonged to Louise Bourgeois – each of them soaring above their estimates. Untitled (The Wedges) led the group boosting £1.1 million – it was estimated at £500,000 – 700,000. Following, The Child earned £493,250 against an expected £200,000 – 300,000. Lastly, La Pére grossed £409,250, above the hoped £200,000 – 300,000.
A set of eight portraits by Frank Auerbach were auctioned for £2.4 million, at the high end of of their estimates £1.8 – 2.5 million. The top sale belonged to Ruth Bromberg Seated – which earned £541,250 against it’s anticpated £450,00 – 650,000.
Additional surprising sales included an early work by Damien Hirst, Jolly, selling for twice its high estimate – £601,250 against £180,000 – 250,000. Howard Hodgkin‘s Interior Grosvenor Square realised £337,250 – well above the estimated £100,000 – 150,000.
Although not as strong as the New York auction this Spring, last night’s auction at Sotheby’s demonstrated a strong sale, which underscores the continual global demand for Contemporary Art. Sotheby’s noted that there was a 25% growth over the sales since last year, and that they experienced 8% of the lots selling to new buyers. Based on these results, it may be considered to be an auspicious start to the week of Contemporary Art Auctions.
Contemporary Evening Auction [Sotheby's]
Bacon Self-Portrait Sells For $7 Million At Sotheby’s [Bloomberg]
Uneven Sales at Sotheby’s [NYTimes]
Sotheby’s Contemporary Sale Makes $108 Million [NYTimes]
Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Auction in London totals $108 million [Art Daily]