AO Auction Recap – New York: Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, November 10th, 2015

November 11th, 2015

Louise Bourgeois, Spider (1997), Art Observed
Louise Bourgeois, Spider (1997), via Rae Wang for Art Observed

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tonight that ultimately brought a final tally of $331,809,000, with 13 of the 70 lots offered passing (barring several withdrawn, high-priced lots). 

Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (1964), via Rae Wang for Art Observed
Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (1964), via Rae Wang for Art Observed

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.

Lucian Freud, The Brigadier (2003-2004), Art Observed
Lucian Freud, The Brigadier (2003-2004), via Rae Wang for Art Observed

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 WarholFour 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.


Jeff Koons, Balloon Swan (2011), via Rae Wang for Art Observed
Jeff Koons, Balloon Swan (2011), via Rae Wang for Art Observed

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.

Andy Warhol, Four Marilyns (1962), via Christie's
Andy Warhol, Four Marilyns (1962), via Christie’s

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.

Christopher Wool, Untitled (1990), via Christie's
Christopher Wool, Untitled (1990), via Christie’s

Read more:
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Christie's]