AO Auction Recap – London: Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, June 29th, 2016

June 29th, 2016

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Portrait (1981), via Christie's
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Portrait (1981), via Christie’s

This week’s Contemporary Evening Sales have concluded, following Christie’s stolid outing in London this evening, as only 4 of the auction house’s 40 lots went unsold to reach a final total of £39,566,000.  Sales were consistently focused over the course of the evening, with few works falling under estimated price.  While an early warning note was sounded with the withdrawal of the sale’s leading Gerhard Richter lot, the auction house’s commitment to placing works this evening ultimately drove it towards a strong bottom line, even if the sale held back from ambitious benchmarks or marquee lots.

Sigmar Polke, Flucht (blau) (Flight (blue)) (1997), via Christie's
Sigmar Polke, Flucht (blau) (Flight (blue)) (1997), via Christie’s

The sale began with an Adrian Ghenie work, which quickly surged past estimates to reach double its initial price, finishing at £398,500.  A Michael Borremans matched this price in the next lot, before a Glenn Ligon light work in the 4th lot failed to find a buyer.  A Basquiat canvas several lots later saw a considerably stronger result, quickly topping estimate to reach £3,554,500, while a second work by the artist, executed on a wood door, also topped estimate for a final of £5,122,500.  A Lichtenstein piece sold below estimate in the next lot for £962,500, followed by the first of the evening’s Warhol pieces, which met estimate and sold immediately for £4,450,500.

Martin Kippenberger, Untitled (1984), via Christie's
Martin Kippenberger, Untitled (1984), via Christie’s

The sale continued its consistent pacing through the following lots, as an Yves Klein sponge met estimate for a £3,218,500 final, while a Nicolas de Staël work doubled estimate shortly after for a final of £1,202,500, and a Sigmar Polke just tipped over estimate for a final of £2,546,500.  A pair of Georg Baselitz works also performed well, beating estimates for £1,426,500 and £1,314,500, respectively.  A Martin Kippenberger settled within estimate shortly after for a final of £1,482,500, while a similarly grid-patterned Mike Kelley work passed in the next lot.

Miquel Barceló, Pinassi (1991), via Christie's
Miquel Barceló, Pinassi (1991), via Christie’s

Passing the halfway mark, the sale continued to methodically place works, even if any major fireworks were lacking.  A Sean Scully beat estimate for a £902,500 final, while a Miquel Barceló also finished above expectation for £1,706,500.  A string of consistent sales wound the sale down towards the final lots, where a Fontana slit canvas passed in the closing moments, continuing a rough week for the Italian artist.

The sales conclude the spring market calendar, as both galleries and auction houses take a deep breath and a more relaxed pace for the summer months.  Sales will kick off again in the fall.

— D. Creahan

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