Following an unsteady outing this past Sunday, Christie’s has turned on a dime with this evening’s special sale of works from the collection of Barney Ebsworth, capping off a 42-lot sale with a strong final result of $317,801,250, leaving only a few works unsold (5 of 42 lots) and a number of major world auction records left broken (at least 10 records in total before the sale reached its conclusion).
The pacing was sprightly over the course of the evening, with works hammering quickly or quick bids forcing a relatively speedy resolution on many works. A Georgia O’Keefe opened the sale below estimate for a final of $612,500, but was followed close behind by the first major test of the evening with Arshile Gorky’s Good Afternoon, Mrs. Lincoln, which bound to estimate to finish at a final of $14,037,500, a new record for the artist. An Alexander Calder also topped estimate at $8,412,500, before another major auction record was reset, with a Willem de Kooning topping its prior $66 million high to reach $68,937,500, before the sale arrived at its climax, the rare Edward Hopper painting Chop Suey. The piece offered no disappointment, rocketing past expectations to sell at an exceptional final price of $95,937,500.
Following this first burst of activity, the sale tapered off in energy, a string of lower priced works reaching estimate or selling above with little prolonged bidding. It was broken up at lot 17 however, where the sale’s last major highlight, a Jackson Pollock, saw stagnating bids as it sold for its low estimate, reaching a final of $55,437,500 that placed it just shy of an auction record for the artist. A Jasper Johns work also finished strong and within estimate to a final of $21,125,000, before another string of lower priced works and passes drew the sale quickly to its conclusion.
Sales turn tomorrow night towards the main Post-War and Contemporary Sales.
— D. Creahan
An American Place | The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection Evening Sale [Christie’s]