Christie’s continued its impressive run of record-setting sales last night, with a steady, competitive sale tonight that ultimately brought a final tally of $331,809,000, with 13 of the 70 lots offered passing (barring several withdrawn, high-priced lots).
The sale began with a string of Alexander Calders from the Kahn Collection which set a strident tone for the night, as the first work rocketed out of the gate to sell on multiples of its estimate, ultimately reaching $2,405,000. Another Calder in the next lot saw a price on multiples of its estimate, reaching $4,085,000 over a $700k high. A David Smith also beat estimate for a final of $5,765,000, bringing up another set of Calders, which continued to demolish estimates, reaching finals of $9,573,000 over a $3 million high, the next hitting $4.6 million over a $3 million high, and a third tripling estimate for $8,005,000.
But the sale cranked into high gear at lot 10, when Louise Bourgeois‘s gnarled Spider saw strong bids that pushed it to $28,165,000, a new record for the artist, and a Roy Lichtenstein sold below the low estimate for $6,661,000, followed by an Agnes Martin that settled within estimate for $6,325,000. Just a few lots later, Lucio Fontana also set a new auction record, as fast-paced early bids gave way to slower, measured competition, and pushed the work to a $29,173,000 final. A Cy Twombly added to the fireworks shortly after, as his untitled work saw measured bids push it squarely within estimate for a final of $17,525,000. A Dubuffet was the first pass of the evening in the next lot, bringing up the sale’s premier Warhol, Four Marilyns. The work began its bidding at $26 million, rising only slightly to hit a final price of $36,005,000 before another Warhol passed in the next lot. Another Warhol passed shortly after, signaling an off night for the pop artist.
A slight lull hung over the next several lots, with the exception of a Claes Oldenburg which doubled estimates for a final of $3,637,000, before another Warhol from his Electric Chair series got bidders interested, quickly beating estimate to sell for a $11,589,000 final, followed shortly by Lucian Freud’s The Brigadier, which settled at a strong $34,885,000, followed by a Clyfford Still that sold within estimate for $10,133,000. A surprise record came with a Mario Schifano at lot 35, which doubled his previous high mark for $893,000.
The sale continued to pull impressive lots well into the low forties, when Christopher Wool’s untitled canvas sold for a final of $16,965,000, followed by a Glenn Ligon that doubled estimates for $2,909,000, and a Felix Gonzalez-Torres candy work that set a new record for the artist at $7,669,000. A Jeff Koons Balloon Swan sold for $14,725,000 one lot later, below estimate. Joe Bradley also set a new auction record, capitalizing on his Gagosian backing to reach $3,077,000.
The sale coasted to the end shortly after, with lower priced lots and passes dominating the last lots. Sotheby’s will enter the fray on the Contemporary Market tonight.
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Christie’s]