LONDON - Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction totalled £132,819,400 ($207,331,083 / ˆ165,891,431), selling 98% by value and 87% by lot. This is the highest total for any auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art in Europe. The top lot of the sale was Yves Klein’s Le Rose du bleu (RE 22), which sold for £23,561,250 ($36,779,111 / ˆ29,428,001; illustrated above), a world record price for any French post-war artist at auction. In total, 4 lots sold above £10 million / 21 lots sold above £1 million and record prices were established for David Altmejd, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Marcel Broodthaers, Yves Klein and Beatriz Milhazes.
Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: “Following the record result achieved at Christie's New York in May, we are delighted with tonight results which established a new record for an auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art in Europe. Totalling more than £132.8 million, at the foundation of the auction’s success were five masterworks by Yves Klein, Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Gerhard Richter. The price for the Bacon was particularly satisfactory following the discovery that this self-portrait carries the body of Lucian Freud. Overall we brought together consignments from four continents, reached buyers on four continents and benefitted from a depth and strength of bidding from across the room and on the phone”.
The top price of the auction was paid for Yves Klein’s magnificent sponge relief Le Rose du bleu (RE 22) (1960), which sold for £23,561,250 / $36,779,111 /ˆ29,428,001, a world record price for a French post-war artist at auction. By far the largest pink sponge relief ever created by the French master, it previously formed part of the renowned Madeleine Everaert and Menil collections and was included in all the artist’s major exhibitions over the past 50 years.
Further Leading Highlights of The Sale:
• An extremely rare Study for Self-Portrait painted by Francis Bacon in 1964 sold for £21,545,250 / $33,632,135 / ˆ26,910,017 (estimate on request). This poignant and exceptionally intimate painting by Francis Bacon marries the artist’s face to the figure of friend and fellow painter, Lucian Freud. It is one of only twelve, floor-length self-portraits ever to be realised by Francis Bacon, four of which are now held in international museum collections. It is the only one to undertake the almost devotional act of conflating the two artist’s bodies.
• A pivotal painting created in the seminal year of 1981, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled sold for £12,921,250 / $20,170,071 / ˆ16,138,641 (estimate on request), a world record price for the artist at auction. Formerly owned by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Untitled is one of the artist’s earliest masterpieces, combining the gritty urbanism of his street graffiti with his raw and guttural symbolism.
• A mesmeric and monumental abstraktes bild, Gerhard Richter’s Struktur 2 sold for £12,697,250 / $19,820,407 / ˆ15,858,865 (estimate: £9,000,000-12,000,000). Executed in 1989 - the same year as the totemic fall of the Berlin Wall, this work translates the powerful climate of change into its dynamic composition. In May this year, another major abstract work by the artist set a world record price at auction, selling for $21.8 million at Christies, New York.
• Rouge triomphant, Alexander Calder's largest hanging 'mobile' ever sold at auction, realised £6,201,250 / $9,680,151 / ˆ7,745,361 (estimate: £6,000,000-8,000,000). Stretching almost half a dozen metres across, this sculpture, which the artist installed in his 1962 retrospective at the Tate, London, is historic, and was clearly a source of some fascination for Calder, who expanded it twice, adding new, large mobile elements; it was acquired by the Mobil Corporation shortly after the artist's death in 1976.