Francis Bacon’s rent cheque painting Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light which sold for £8,084,500 ($16,371,113 / ˆ11,528,497). © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007.
LONDON - Christie’s Post War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale including Double Vision held on 14 October 2007 totalled £39,810,200 ($80,615,655 /ˆ56,769,345), the highest ever total for Christie’s October Post War & Contemporary Art sale in London and double the previous total for this sale of £19 million in 2006. Strategically timed during a week when the world’s focus is on international contemporary art in London, the sale was led by Francis Bacon’s rent cheque painting Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light which sold for £8,084,500 ($16,371,113 / ˆ11,528,497).
“The increasing interest in collecting art has been fuelled by an unprecedented breadth and depth of the international collecting community. We continue to see confidence in the international art market, notably the Post War & Contemporary Art segment, with strong prices achieved for top quality and sensibly estimated works. The results tonight are a testament to Christie’s unrivalled knowledge and expertise of this dynamic market,” said Pilar Ordovas, Head of Post War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s London.
The sale was highlighted by Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) which sold for £8,084,500 ($16,371,113 / ˆ11,528,497), the fourth highest price for the artist at auction. The picture was offered by the Royal College of Art who were given the work directly by the artist as rent for the use of a studio in Cromwell Road in 1969 and who were selling the painting in order to raise funds for a major new campus. All proceeds of the sale will be invested directly into the construction of the new Royal College of Art buildings based in Battersea.
Sir Christopher Frayling, Rector of the Royal College of Art said: "We are very happy with the result of today’s sale. I hate to use the phrase 'bringing home the bacon', but since the major phase of the new building development in Battersea, with all its promises, will be supported by this sale of Francis Bacon's painting, I've a feeling that's just what we're doing here. The RCA lent Bacon a studio in 1969. He gave us a painting as rent. That eight-month occupancy of a single studio will help us to build over a hundred studios for future generations of students."
Other highlights of this evening’s sale included:
- Double Vision: Important Contemporary Art and Design from a Private Collection, a single-owner collection which merged post-war and contemporary art with 20th century design, and which totalled £7,846,100 / $15,888,353 / ˆ11,188,539. Forming the design centerpiece of the collection, Australian-born Marc Newson’s (b. 1963) futuristic Lockheed Lounge, 1986 sold for £748,500 ($1,515,713/ˆ1,067,361) and set a new world auction record for any living designer.
- Small Vase of Flowers, (1991) by Jeff Koons (b.1955), from the artist’s notorious Made in Heaven series, which sold for £1,588,500 ($3,216,713 / ˆ2,265,201).
- Donald Judd’s (1928-1994) Untitled, 1985, executed in aluminium and blue plexiglass, which realised £1,364,500 ($2,763,113 / ˆ1,945,777).
- Wayward Nurse by Richard Prince (b.1949) which sold for £1,028,500 ($2,082,713 / ˆ1,466,641) against a pre-sale estimate of £400,000,600,000.
- The section of Chinese Contemporary Art which offered ten paintings, all of which sold for a collective total of £5,245,500 ($10,622,138 / ˆ7,480,083). The top price was Mask Series 1999, No. 5 by Zeng Fanzhi (b.1964) which realised £804,500 ($1,629,113 / ˆ1,147,217).
In today’s sale, 10 artists records were established including for Shiro Kuramata, Scott Burton, Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Jonathan Meese, Robert Longo, Olafur Eliasson, Anselm Reyle, Yin Zhaoyang and Carsten Höller.