The post-Brexit contemporary sales continued in London this past evening, as Sotheby’s capped a 47-lot offering of contemporary and post-war works, seeing all but 7 works find a buyer, and bringing in a sales tally of £52,194,000 that exceeded its initial $35 million estimates.
The sale kicked off with a spark, as the Kusama Infinity Nets came out of the gate to double its estimate and sell for a final of £677,000, while a Calder mobile was the first to break the £1 million mark in the next lot, also beating estimate for £1,865,000. An Yves Klein work continued a strong start for the sale at £2,165,000.
Interest remained high during the course of the sale, with auctioneer Oliver Barker needing little in the way of extra encouragement to coax out multiple bidders on many of the early works. A Cy Twombly stalled after several bids lots, yet still brought its estimated price at £701,000, while a Bourgeois sculpture brought £989,000, within estimate, and a Dubuffet took repeated bids over the estimate to bring a final of £3,173,000, more than double its low estimate. A second Dubuffet in the next lot also surprised expectations, beating estimate on multiples to reach £1,325,000. An Adrian Ghenie brought a final price of £1,865,000, with a second lot by the artist also beating estimates for £665,000.
Several lots later, the Keith Haring work, one of the sale’s highlights, saw impressive interest to push it to a final price of £4,181,000, topping its £3 million high estimate. A Mark Bradford, by contrast, hammered below the mark to a final of £965,000. Strong lots also came in the middle of the sale from Andy Warhol’s Four Marilyns (£2,893,000) and Rudolf Stingel (£1,745,000), before Jenny Saville’s Shift, not seen since its appearance in the Sensation exhibition, broke the artist’s world record with a final price of £6,813,000. A Frank Auerbach was the first to pass in the next lot, while a Joan Mitchell met estimate shortly after for a final of £1,565,000. An Ai Weiwei Map of China passed as well in the following minutes.
The sale ran fairly quickly through its later lots, as a Lucio Fontana slit work met estimate for a £1,685,000 final, and a pair of Castellani works went unsold. The sale drew to a close with a Neo Rauch, which beat estimates for a final of £869,000, while a Zeng Fanzhi Self-Portrait met estimates for a solid £2,045,000.
The sale sees Sotheby’s making a strong statement in the face of a shrinking. increasingly unstable market, especially after the reshuffling efforts made earlier this year. It would seem that Amy Cappellazzo’s impact on the company is already being felt in finding homes for many of the works on sale, and may help the auction house continue to chart a confident path through unsteady terrain in the coming months.
Sales conclude tomorrow at Christie’s.
— D. Creahan
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Sotheby’s]