Another night of sales has come and gone at Sotheby’s, with an unexpectedly robust outing from the auction house that moved quickly through the 44-lot sale to a final total of $242,194,000. The sale was a short but impressive affair, as the auction house’s early lots consistently beat out estimates in the early lots, and ultimately saw only a small handful of lots go unsold. The sale makes for an impressive response to market alarmists and critics of the auction house, showing there seems to still be strong enthusiasm in the contemporary market.
The evening started with a work by Adrian Ghenie starting at $90,000, quickly blowing past its auction estimate to reach the $1 million mark, where it would ultimately hover before taking off, doubling price again for a final of $2,590,000. A Rudolf Stingel two lots later continued the strong early lots with a final of $2,950,000, while a Peter Doig in the next lot saw strong interest to bring a final of $3,946,000. One lot later, rapid bidding exploded over a Calder piece, pushing it quickly to double estimate at a $8,314,000 final. A Jean Dubuffet also saw strong interest just a lot later, bringing a $3,250,000 final to bring up the Francis Bacon diptych. The work saw strong bids to push it up past its $30 million high estimate for a final of $34,970,000, followed by a Louise Bourgeois Spider, which also topped estimate for a final of $6,522,000. An Alberto Burri followed in the next lot for a final of $,7,306,000, before the first pass of the evening, a Fontana slit work, and the Warhol fright wig piece, which reached estimate for a final of $7,698,000.
The next lot, Christopher Wool’s Untitled, sold below estimate to reach $13,914,000, while a Sam Francis composition a few lots later also surged past expectations, ultimately topping estimate and reaching a new auction record for the artist at $11,842,000. Another premier lot came shortly after, as Cy Twombly’s untitled piece came to the block and sold almost immediately for $36,650,000, while a Joan Mitchell piece underperformed slightly in the next lot with a $5,738,000 final, and a Gerhard Richter piece in the next lot followed up with a strong $5,850,000, beating a $4.5 million estimate.
The sale moved into the late stages with a second Twombly piece, which saw several eager bids before stalling, finally selling to a final of $15,370,000. The sale’s impressive David Smith sculpture also stalled, reaching its low estimate to bring a final of $9,210,000. a Franz Kline also underperformed, but still sold below estimate for a final of $7,978,000. A Jean-Michel Basquiat also performed well in the late lots, topping and nearly doubling estimate for $3,610,000, while a Zhang Xiaogang work fell just shy of estimate at $4,954,000, as did a vivid yellow Basquiat at $6,858,000.
The sales conclude tomorrow at Christie’s.
— D. Creahan
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Sotheby's]