Sotheby's auction triumphs over art market gloom
Date: 1 Mar 2008 | | Views: 3980
Source: The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk), by Gareth Harris
An art sale of contemporary masterpieces, including works by Warhol and Bacon, fetched more than £95m at a Sotheby's auction last night.
Despite rumours of a downturn in the contemporary art market, as well as disappointing results at a Christie's post-war and contemporary art auction earlier this month, the sale exceeded its £72m estimate and set a record for contemporary art auctions in Europe.
The centrepiece of the event, Bacon's Study of Nude with Figure in a Mirror - which shows the artist's friend and model Henrietta Moraesbroke - broke its £18m estimate and sold for £19.9m to a European private collector. A small portrait thought to be the first portrayal of Bacon's last great muse, John Edwards, sold for more than £2m. Despite the high prices, Bacon's work did not break last year's auction record of £26.5m for his 1962 Study from Innocent X.
Meanwhile, Three Self Portraits by Andy Warhol, a rare trinity of canvases dating from 1986, sold for more than £11m to an anonymous buyer. The unveiling of the red, white and blue work represented a homecoming for the portraits: they were acquired directly from the artist's landmark exhibition at the Anthony d'Offay gallery in a transaction completed the day before Warhol died in February 1987. Three Self Portraits had been estimated to sell for more than £10 million.
Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale, La Fine Di Dio of 1963 smashed the estimate of £4m and the previous record price for Fontana of £2.4m, going for more than £10m to an anonymous buyer. Jeff Koons' sculpture Kiepenkerl, estimated at £1.5m to £2.5m, fetched more than £3m including buyers' premium.
Among five other artists achieving records was Gerhard Richter. His 1983 painting, Kerze (Candle), which featured on the cover of Sonic Youth's 1988 album Daydream Nation, quadrupled its estimate, selling for £8m to an American private collector.
The 70-lot sale was expected to fetch £72m in total. The £95,030,000 (including premiums) total was a major achievement for the auction house, doubling the profits from its evening sale last year when 20% of the lots did not find buyers.