NEW YORK, NY.- The Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art realized $272,873,000/£169,181,260 /ˆ199,197,290, selling 93% by lot and 92% by value. The sale had a pre-sale estimate of $239.2 to $348.6 million with 75 lots. Buyer geography by lot was 63% American, 20% European, 4% Asian, and 13% other.
Marc Porter, Chairman of Christie’s Americas, commented: “We welcomed an enthusiastic response from the global collecting community this evening, giving Christie’s the week’s highest total for Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sales. Led by an exceptional group of museum-quality works from Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Gerhard Richter, this was an evening rich with masterpiece quality works offered fresh to the market from this season’s most important private, corporate and estate collections. Eight lots sold for more than $5 million, and the sale total nearly quadrupled the amount for the same time last year. We continue to see ever-increasing demand from both new and established collectors with deep stores of wealth, who remain actively engaged in the auction market.”
The evening’s top price of $42,642,500/£26,438,350/ ˆ31,129,025 – a world auction record for Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) – was achieved for his Pop Art masterpiece Ohhh...Alright… Painted in 1964 using his signature Ben-Day dots, Lichtenstein’s image of a blue-eyed, flame haired beauty illustrates the brash comic styling of the artist’s most celebrated period of artistic production.
In a sales week that will be remembered as “the season of Warhols”, Christie’s led the auction market for the artist, offering 15 Warhol works and achieving $70,381,500/£43,636,530/ˆ51,378,495. The top price among the selection was for Andy Warhol’s hand-painted masterpiece, Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable), 1962, which sold to an anonymous bidder for $23,882,500/ £14,807,150/ ˆ17,434,225. At six feet high, the painting is one of the largest examples of Warhol’s most famous and beloved images of a Campbell’s Soup Can. It was offered from the renowned collection of the Seattle collector Barney A. Ebsworth, who has owned it since 1987.
In total, 45 works of art sold for over $1 million, eight works for over $5 million, and four works for over $10 million.
In addition to Lichtenstein’s Ohhh…Alright and Warhol’s Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable), top prices were achieved for the following artists and works:
• Balloon Flower (Blue) by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), from the Daimler Art Collection is one of the artist’s most important outdoor sculptures and belongs to his acclaimed and beloved Celebration series. This magnificent work, which has attracted sightseers and art lovers alike to the plaza in front of Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries, fetched $16,882,500/£10,467,150/ ˆ12,324,225. Balloon Flower (Blue) is the first in a series of only five Balloon Flowers in existence, each a different color.
• Zwei Kerzen by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), from one of the most highly regarded series of paintings of Candles and Skulls that Richter created in 1982 and 1983. This intimate and contemplative painting, executed with stunning photographic realism, fetched $12,962,500/£8,036,750/ ˆ9,462,625.
• No. 18 (Brown and Black on Plum) by Mark Rothko (1903-1970), painted in a dark-toned and somber color palette, comes from the collection of the late Dr. Franz Meyer, the well-known art historian and museum director. Previously included in major exhibitions and retrospective’s of Rothko’s work, the painting sold for $9,602,500/ £5,953,550/ ˆ7,009,852.
Major private and estate collections proved to be the source of some of the most significant works offered this season, including one of the largest assemblages of Warhol works ever offered at auction. From the Collection of Robert Shapazian, the late former managing director of the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, Christie’s offered a wide range of Warhols encompassing each of the artist’s favorite subjects, from Marilyn Monroe to Brillo Boxes. This exceptional collection was 100% sold, with a top price of $9,042,500/ £5,606,350/ ˆ6,601,025 achieved for Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato) of 1962, which soared beyond its pre-sale estimate of $6-$8 million. The total Evening Sale portion of the Shapazian collection achieved $33,970,000/£21,061,400/ ˆ24,798,100.
From The Collection of Max Palevsky, the late computing pioneer and co-founder of Scientific Data Systems and Intel Corp., the sale featured blue-chip works by Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, Donald Judd, Joseph Stella and Richard Lindner, and achieved a combined total of $24,238,500/£14,965,870/ ˆ17,694,105, with additional works to be offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Day Sale on November 11. The top lot of the collection was Alexander Calder’s Red Curlicue, a vibrant, monumental outdoor sculpture with gracefully arching bright red fronds that measures 16 feet at its highest point. The sculpture fetched $6,354,500/ £3,939,790/ ˆ4,638,785, setting a new world auction record for the artist.
In addition, new world auction records were achieved for a number of artists, including Mark Tansey for On Photography (Homage to Susan Sontag), 1982, which realized $4,674,500/ £2,898,190/ ˆ3,412,385, breaking the record set just six months ago at Christie’s New York for the artist’s Push/Pull from the Collection of Michael Crichton. Also setting records were Richard Lindner for West 48th Street, 1964 which achieved $1,022,500/£633,950/ ˆ746,425, Mark Grotjahn for Untitled (Lavender Butterfly Jacaranda over Green) which sold for $1,482,500/ £919,150/ ˆ1,082,225, and Morris Louis for Saf, which realized $2,994,500/ £1,856,590,/ ˆ2,185,985. Additional records by medium were achieved for a work on paper by Lindner, a sculpture and work on paper by Cy Twombly, a work on paper by Marcel Duchamp, and a work on canvas by Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
Christie’s fortnight of sales continues November 11, with Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sales Including Property from the Collection of Max Palevsky beginning at 9:30 am EST.