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  • Contemporary Art Sale at Sotheby's
    11.1.2005 NEW YORK.

    Andy Warhol, Bald Eagle (detail) painted in 1983.

    Sotheby’s evening sale of Contemporary Art on November 9, 2005 in New York will feature an iconic group of works highlighted by David Smith’s exceedingly rare Cubi XXVIII (est. $8/12 million). Also of great importance are Andy Warhol’s Jackie Frieze (est. $8/10 million), two dazzling paintings by Cy Twombly, Untitled (Rome) and Untitled (New York City), estimated to bring $6/8 million and $8/10 million respectively, and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (History of Black People), which is estimated to sell for $4.5/6.5 million. The sale will also include outstanding examples by younger artists such as Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Damien Hirst and Chris Ofili. The evening sale comprises 54 lots and is estimated to bring a total of $78.6/108.4 million. The works will be on public exhibition at Sotheby’s in New York November 5-9.

    “We are very pleased with the offering in this season’s sale. It speaks of great quality, especially with works such as Smith’s Cubi - to have such a rare and important work is indeed a coup,” commented Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department. “As a whole, this group reflects what the market is demanding right now, with a strong emphasis on figurative works spanning from the 1960s to today.”

    Highlighting Sotheby’s November sale is David Smith’s rare Cubi XXVIII which comes from a Texas foundation and is estimated to sell for $8/12 million. “This work is from the artist’s most important series and represents the epitome of American sculpture,” noted Mr. Meyer. Cubi XXVIII, a monumental stainless steel sculpture measuring 108 by 110 by 45 inches, is one of the twenty-eight Cubi sculptures made by Smith beginning in 1961 and continuing until his death in 1965. This series represents the high-point of the artist’s career and the art historical importance of the Cubi sculptures is evident in the fact that twenty-two works are in the collections of major museums, or are promised gifts to institutions. Of those in museum collections, most were acquired by these institutions between 1966-1969 from the estate of the artist.

    Sotheby’s established the record for David Smith when it offered Cubi V from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. H. Gates Lloyd in May of 1994, the only time a work from this series appeared at auction. Selling for $4,072,500, this price still stands as the record for the artist at auction. The November sale also features great works by Andy Warhol, chief among them Jackie Frieze from 1964. Estimated to sell for $8/10 million, this figurative work is a tour de force presentation of one of the artist’s most poignant images – the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, in public mourning. For an artist who was fascinated by death and disaster and whose work was inspired by the confluence of public and private in the media, Warhol naturally responded to the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination – the most extensively covered media event of the time. Jackie Frieze is one of only two extant works by Warhol of Jackie portraits assembled in a horizontal frieze format. The other, a series of eight canvases of gold and silver backgrounds, is a promised gift to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The present work comprises 13 canvases with a wide variation of tonal change in the blue and gray backgrounds. A much later work by Warhol, Bald Eagle painted in 1983, was acquired directly from the artist by the owner and is estimated to sell for $1.2/1.6 million. This work portrays perhaps the most powerful of cultural icons, the national emblem of the United States, and was part of the artist’s Endangered Species series, an ironic commentary on the public conscience.