AO Auction Recap – London: Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale, February 10th, 2016

February 10th, 2016

Lucian Freud, Pregnant Girl (1960-61), via Sotheby's
Lucian Freud, Pregnant Girl (1960-61), via Sotheby’s

The London Contemporary Auctions continued its mixed run this week, as Sotheby’s concludes this evening’s entry to mixed results.  The 59-lot sale saw 11 works go unsold,not to mention a number of high-profile withdrawn lots, bringing a final tally of £69,461,000, a figure that sat squarely within the auction house’s presale estimates.  Of particular note in the early moments of the sale was the withdrawal of the evening’s star Gerhard Richter lot, a move that left the auction house with a considerable gap in its initial estimates.  Even so, the auction room was practically buzzing as the sale got underway.

Adrian Ghenie, The Sunflowers in 1937 (2014), via Sotheby's
Adrian Ghenie, The Sunflowers in 1937 (2014), via Sotheby’s

Bidding began with a subdued Cheyney Thompson work in the first lot, which saw multiple bids in a bustling auction room that saw it ultimately double estimate for a final of £197,000.  A Mike Kelley work in the next lot also surged past expectations to double its estimate at £245,000, as did an Isa Genzken in the next lot, hitting a £413,000 final.  Yet it was the Adrian Ghenie work at lot 7 was the early standout of the evening, with feverish bidding obliterating the artist’s auction record to a final of £3,117,000, over double his previous tally.  Yet the following lots saw less admirable results, as Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana works hammered below estimate.

Alberto Burri, Sacco e Rosso (1959), via  Sotheby's
Alberto Burri, Sacco e Rosso (1959), via  Sotheby’s

The sales continued to mixed results as the evening marched on, as the Alberto Burri, one of the auction’s premiere lots, sold at low estimate for £9,109,000, still setting an auction record for the artist despite somewhat tepid interest.  Another Yves Klein was the first pass of the evening in the following lot, and was followed by a Warhol Electric Chair, which also failed to find a buyer.  A Basquiat in the next lot managed to stop the skid, selling for a final price of £6,197,000.  One lot later, Lucian Freud’s Pregnant Girl also performed well, beating estimate quickly and rising to a final of £16,053,000, double its initial figures.

Andy Warhol, Large Campbell's Soup Can (1964), via Sotheby's
Andy Warhol, Large Campbell’s Soup Can (1964), via Sotheby’s

The sale was relatively by the book for the following lots, as most works hit estimate and quickly sold, with the exception of a Warhol flowers work that passed at lot later.  Even the iconic Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can saw little interest at lot 30, selling just above the low estimate of £5,133,000.  Sales continued quickly through the following lots with few highlights, save a Damien Hirst going well below estimate at lot 40, and an Ai Weiwei photo triptych that tripled estimate for a final price of £755,000.


Jean Michel-Basquiat, Untitled (Head of Madman) (1982), via Sotheby's
Jean Michel-Basquiat, Untitled (Head of Madman) (1982), via Sotheby’s

The sales concluded with several relatively solid bids, as a Kazuo Shiraga reached estimate for a final of £1,565,000, followed by another string of passes.  Sales conclude tomorrow evening at Christie’s.

Read more:
Sotheby’s Contemporary  Evening Sale [Sotheby's]