New York City’s week of marquee auctions, and its seemingly unpredictable results, continued tonight, as Christie’s concluded its offering in the Post-War and Contemporary markets, an impressively strong and consistent sale that saw 7 of 61 lots going unsold to reach a final tally of $276,972,500.
The sale began with a Jonathan Horowitz work, Obama ’08, which offered a fittingly political air to a sale some had forecasted to struggle in the wake of political uncertainty in the U.S., perhaps even a sense of nostalgia for the previous president elect. Either way, the work saw modest interest to bring the work inside its low estimate before selling above estimate at $223,500, while a Mark Grotjahn hammered below estimate. An Adrian Ghenie cracked $1mil in the next lot (final: $1,387,500), and a Christopher Wool also topped estimate for $3,127,500 (a record for the artist’s works on paper), setting off a series of highlighted lots that kicked the sale into the next gear. An Andy Warhol settled within estimate in the next lot for $3,719,500, while a Cy Twombly followed suit, reaching a final of $2,887,500. This brought up the evening’s star Willem de Kooning lot, which shot out of the gate and was quickly bid up to over $50 million, ultimately setting a new auction record for the artist at $66,327,500.
The sale continued its momentum through the following lots, as a Pollock piece earned a strong $4,503,500 final (over estimate), and Roy Lichtenstein’s Sleeping Muse tribute to Brancusi settled within estimate for $4,167,500. An Agnes Martin performed within estimate, bringing a final of $6,743,500, while another Lichtenstein was the first pass of the evening, as his Double Mirror failed to find a buyer. Shortly after, Jean Dubuffet’s Les Grandes Artères struggled initially to meet the low estimate, but ultimately climbed upwards to sell for just shy of the artist’s auction record, bringing a final of $23,767,500.
The strength of the evening’s bidding continued on through the middle of the sale, as another Adrian Ghenie doubled estimate to a final of $3,943,500, while a Jean-Michel Basquiat settled within estimate, a Christopher Wool struggled to meet estimate, however, and a Richard Prince sold back at estimate, all earning the same price of $5,847,500. John Currin’s Nice ‘n Easy followed shortly behind, ultimately reaching estimate and a new world record at $12,007,500. A Robert Ryman work followed close behind, hitting estimate to sell for a final of $10,775,500. Another of the evening’s star lots, the Eric Clapton-owned Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild, also sold quickly, netting a final of $22,087,500, within estimate. Another Richter several lots later met expectations, bringing a final price of $5,847,500.
The sale shifted here into its series of Italian lots, scoring $4,951,500 for an Alberto Burri work (over estimate), while several other works managed to top smaller estimated ranges. An Alighiero Boetti work closed out the series with a strong $2,167,500 price, doubling estimate.
As the sale wound towards its conclusion, the sale seemed to lose its momentum, as a second Ruscha went unsold, and an Ad Reinhardt hammered under estimate for $703,500. Another Agnes Martin met estimate for $4,503,500, while a Joan Mitchell saw strong interest to push it from well below estimate to a $5,399,500 final. The sale drew to a close with a few missteps, and even a few suprises (among them a Hockney still-life that doubled estimate to a final of $3.9 million) managing to keep pace all the way through lot 65.
Sales continue tomorrow evening at Sotheby’s.
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Christie's]