Maurizio Cattelan, Him (2001), via Christie’s
This week’s marathon series of art auctions is underway in New York City, as Christie’s launched a rare, specially-curated Sunday sale, ending its 39 lot Bound to Fail auction with a final tally of $78,123,250, with only a single lot going unsold. The fair, which followed hot on the heels of the last hours of Frieze, saw modest bidding and consistently dependable sales, although several works sold for final prices below estimate.
The auction kicked off with a disturbing Jim Shaw drawing from his Distorted Face series, which saw initially strong interest to quickly hit the high estimate to sell for the final of $52,500, followed by a bawdy Mike Kelley piece that brought $629,000. A Martin Kippenberger in the next lot was the first to crack $1 million, hitting a final of $1,325,000, as did the Bruce Nauman video in the next lot, a work from the opening show of the New Museum, which brought a final price, over estimate, of $1,625,000 (a new world record for the artist’s video work). A Cindy Sherman met estimates a few lots later at $413,000. A Richard Prince joke painting was also an early strong entry, bringing a final of $3,637,000, within estimate, while a Paul McCarthy piece only a few lots later achieved a strong price of $2,045,000, and a Mike Kelley Arena piece brought a final of $1,445,000.
Several lots later,the auction’s cover lot hovered for some time below the low estimate of $6 million, until some gentle coaxing by auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen helped push the work to a final of $6,997,000, while a stark Wade Guyton in the next lot brought a final of $2,685,000. One lot later, a Robert Gober sculpture of a large stick of butter brought a final of $2,285,000, squarely within estimate. But it was the Jeff Koons Equilibrium piece that dominated the middle of the sale, hitting a $13.5 hammer on the nose to bring a final of $15,285,000. Another Richard Prince piece chimed in on the evening’s predictable sales five lots later, bringing a final of $2,741,000, although a Christopher Wool struggled to reach estimate, just sliding in at the low mark for $2,045,000. A Sigmar Polke was the evening’s first, and only, pass, one lot later, followed by a Rosemarie Trockel, which saw mixed interest to meet estimate at $1,805,000.
The sale progressed more or less by the books as it moved into the evening’s final lots, ultimately closing on the Maurizio Cattelan Hitler sculpture Him, a piece whose brusque subject matter did little to deter bidders, quickly reaching estimate and beyond for a final of $17,189,000, demolishing the artist’s previous auction record with a stylish conclusion to the sale.
Christie’s will resume auctions later this week for its main Post-War/Contemporary and Impressionist Sales.
— D. Creahan and Q. Childs
Christie’s: Born to Fail [Christie’s]