Warhol and Basquiat Lead Sotheby's Contemporary Sale - Up 20%
“During the important summer art calendar in Europe, following Venice, Documenta and Basel, London is the final stop for collectors around the world. The June auctions are at the heart of the vibrant London art scene at this time of year, making for busy views, packed salerooms, and real competition for the art on offer, as we saw tonight.”
- Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Europe
Sotheby’s London, 28 June 2017: Sotheby’s Evening Auction of Contemporary Art in London this evening exceeded its pre-sale high estimate to total £62,325,750 / $79,783,193 / €70,403,354 – an increase of 20% (GBP) / 15% (USD) on the equivalent sale last year.
· 95.1% sold by lot, this was the fifth consecutive Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s worldwide with a sell-through rate of over 90%.
· An auction record was achieved for British artist Cecily Brown – for the second time this year.
· 50% of lots sold for prices above their pre-sale high estimates.
· 70% of the works had never previously been offered at auction.
· The pre-sale estimates for the sale were £44.3-60.6m / $56.7-77.6m / €50-68.5m.
Tonight’s total brings combined sales of Contemporary Art so far this season – including the 11 contemporary works sold in last week’s ‘Actual Size’ sale – to £68,751,000 / $87,884,791.*
This evening’s sale was led by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untitled work from 1983. Conceived in the style of a classical frieze, the triptych sold for an over-estimate £6,492,500 / $8,311,049 / €7,333,947 (est. £4-6 million). Never before offered at auction, the painting had been in the same collection for 20 years. This followed a string of strong prices for Basquiat at Sotheby’s London. In the past twelve months, all but one of the paintings offered by the artist have achieved prices above their high estimates.
Andy Warhol’s Self-Portrait, 1963-64, brought the second highest price of the evening, selling for £6,008,750 / $7,691,801 / €6,787,502 (est. £5-7 million). From Warhol’s very first sequence of self-portraits, created using images from a photo booth, this work is effectively the artist’s first-ever selfie. It appeared at auction for the very first time tonight, 30 years on from the artist’s death in 1987. Artworks from this period typically attract the strongest prices for Warhol at auction, with eight of the top ten auction prices for the artist coming from the years 1962-4.
Two joint collaborative works by Warhol and Basquiat, from the collection of Tommy Hilfiger, both soared over estimate. Sweet Pungent, 1984-85, sold for £4,433,750 / $5,675,643 / € 5,008,377 (est. £1.4-1.8 million) and New Flame, 1985, sold for £2,408,750 / $3,083,441 / € 2,720,931 (est. £1.7-2.2 million). Although teaming up with the legendary Warhol was certainly a coup for the 23-year-old Basquiat, the reciprocity of the collaboration should not be underestimated. Basquiat reinvigorated Warhol, who was inspired to paint by hand for the first time in 20 years.
Other strong prices for American artists included Roy Lichtenstein’s Picasso-inspired Two Paintings with Dado, 1983, that sold for an above estimate £3,308,750 / $4,235,531 / €3,737,574 (est. £2.4-3 million) and Richard Prince’s School Nurse, 2005, that also sold above estimate for £4,096,250 / $5,243,610 / €4,627,136 (est. £3.5- 4.5 million).
Another important result for British art was set by Cecily Brown’s The Girl Who Had Everything. This monumental work set a new auction record for the artist at £1,868,750 / $2,392,187 / €2,110,946 (est. £800,000 -1.2 million), superseding the record set in London just earlier this year.
WORKS THAT SAW THE DEEPEST BIDDING
Lot 29: Wolfgang Tillmans, Freischwimmer #81, 9 bidders
Lot 39: Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 8 bidders
Lot 7: Jean Dubuffet, Béret Rose, 5 bidders
Lot 13: Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sweet Pungent, 5 bidders
Our Day Sale continues tomorrow: pre-sale estimate £10,282,000-14,462,000 / $13,092,071-18,414,465 / €11,635,121-16,365,213 (169 lots offered).
*The 11 contemporary artworks included in last week’s ‘Actual Size’ Sale achieved a total of £6,425,250 / $8,101,599.
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