Concluding a three week series of auctions, the Contemporary Evening Sales are set to take place in London in the coming evenings, offering a perspective on the strength of the market as 2015’s art season gets underway.
The auctions begin on Tuesday, February 10th, with Sotheby’s Evening sale. The 77-lot sale is carrying a presale estimate of £89.7 million to £127.1 million, led by a large-scale Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild from 1986, which is estimated to sell for £14 million to £20 million. Also topping the list is a rare Francis Bacon double self-portrait, executed in 1977 and carrying a £13 million to £18 million presale estimate. The painting, executed just weeks after the suicide of his partner George Dyer, is already commanding impressive buzz, and may turn out to be the night’s most coveted lot. A Lucio Fontana “slit” work also sits at the top of the sale offerings, estimated at £5 million to £7 million.
The sales continue Wednesday night at Christie’s, where a 64-lot sale carries a presale low estimate of £95 million, a figure Christie’s is highlighting as the second highest pre-sale low estimate for any Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction on the European continent. The top lots of the sale also include a Gerhard Richter, this one from the artist’s photo paintings, titled Swiss Lake. Christie’s is also selling Study for a Head, a 1955 Francis Bacon work, as well as Cy Twombly’s “blackboard painting” Untitled (New York City) (1970). Each of Christie’s top lots have declined to give a firm estimate, pointing to early anticipation that the works will exceed £20 million each.
The week concludes at Phillips with a 30-lot sale. While markedly subdued compared with the proceedings of the previous evenings, the sale does include a number of notable works, including its top lot, Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads from 2010, which is estimated to sell between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000. A work from Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes is also at the top of the list, and carries a presale estimate of £1.5 million to £2.5 million.
Art Observed will be covering the auctions live over the course of the week, and will be posting results to our Instagram and Twitter accounts.
— D. Creahan