AO Auction Recap – New York: “Christie’s Contemporary Evening Sale, November 12th, 2014

November 13th, 2014

Andy Warhol, Triple Elvis [Ferus Type] (1963), via Christie's
Andy Warhol, Triple Elvis [Ferus Type] (1963), via Christie’s

The market has a new world auction record after Christie’s monumental sale last night in New York, an $852.9 million benchmark that saw 92% of the works find buyers, and 69 of the 75 works on sale exceed $1 million in its final sales total.  Capitalizing on a remarkably strong selection of works and an eager buying pool, the auction saw a number of impressive figures reached, as well as several artist records fall.

Peter Doig, Pine House (Rooms for Rent) (1994), via Christie's
Peter Doig, Pine House (Rooms for Rent) (1994), via Christie’s

Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on the Prom (1990), via Christie's
Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on the Prom (1990), via Christie’s

The auction was defined by the sale of a pair of Andy Warhol prints from the pinnacle of the artist’s career, portraits of Elvis and Marlon Brando that carried early hints that both works might achieve upwards of $70 million.  Four Marlons saw strong bidding, falling just shy of the estimate at $69,605,000, while Triple Elvis [Ferrus Type] was the star lot of the evening, surging well beyond its companion to bring in $81,925,000.  Both went to unidentified phone bidders.  Another leading lot came much later, as Francis Bacon’s Seated Figure brought in a final price of $44,965,000.


Francis Bacon, Seated Figure (1960), via Christie's
Francis Bacon, Seated Figure (1960), via Christie’s

Cy Twombly, Untitled (1970), via Christie's
Cy Twombly, Untitled (1970), via Christie’s

Sales also saw new auction records for a number of artists.  An untitled Cy Twombly from 1970 was one of the standout lots from the sale, flying past the $50 million high estimate to set an impressive new auction record for the artist, as multiple bids pushed the piece up to a final price of $69,605,00.  Peter Doig, who has hinted all year at claiming the auction record for a living British artist, finally took home the distinction, as his work Pine House (Rooms for Rent) sold for the final price of $18,085,000, setting both a personal best and a new benchmark for his fellow countrymen.  Ed Ruscha also has a new auction record courtesy of Larry Gagosian, who placed the winning bid of $30,405,000 on the artist’s 1963 canvas Smash.  The sale obliterated Ruscha’s previous record for a gas station painting of $6,985,000.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (648-3) (1987), via Christie's
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (648-3) (1987), via Christie’s

Ed Ruscha, Smash (1963), via Christie's
Ed Ruscha, Smash (1963), via Christie’s

Other works also commanded healthy final prices.  Roy Lichtenstein’s Reflections on the Prom, a late work, sold for $21,445,000, while a Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild topped out just above estimate at $31,525,000.  A Jeff Koons Balloon Monkey was also one of the auction’s strongest lots, bringing in $25,925,000.

The sales will conclude tonight at Phillips.

— D. Creahan

Read more:
Christie’s Latest Blockbuster Edges Closer to the $1B Mark [Art Info]
Warhol’s paintings of Elvis, Brando help Christie’s set a new auction record [Fortune]
A Warhol Leads a Night of Soaring Prices at Christie’s [NYT]
Christie’s Contemporary Art Sale News $852.9 M., All-Time Auction Record [Art News]