While the London auction boasted nothing quite of the quality of the $69 million Picasso portrait of his “Golden Muse” that Sotheby’s sold the week before, it had a solid result with 55 of the 58 lots sold for £109.3 million, or $151.7 million.
The US-based auction house had a tough act to beat, after Christie’s in London raked in the equivalent of $189.9 million from 60 lots the evening before, the highest total for any auction of Post-War and Contemporary art held in Europe. For those who watch such figures, Sotheby’s was 94.8% sold by lot and 94.4% by value; Christie’s 92% by lot or 96% by value.
Here, the top name was not an estimate-beating $31.2 million Andy Warhol but Doig. The artist’s landscape “The Architect’s Home in the Ravine” from 1991 was one of only four works made for his breakthrough Whitechapel show in 1991. Its significance, and Doig’s recent performance as Britain’s most expensive living artist, meant it had an estimate of £14/18 million at hammer prices. The work shows on the BASI price index as auctioned a few times before and it sold for £14,376,400 with fees ($19,948,693.)
Still, almost half of works sold for prices in excess of high estimate. The second-highest lot had never been seen at auction before. Richter’s early abstract squeegee painting “Gelbgrün” (1982) was estimated at £7/10 million and sold above the high estimate for £10.9 million.
A monochromatic, untitled enamel-on-canvas work from 2007 by American artist Christopher Wool was estimated at £4.2/6.2 million, and was pushed by six bidders well above that to £10.4 million.
Another lot beating estimate was by Lucio Fontana, with one of his tagli or “cut” paintings. The canvas “Concetto Spaziale, Attese” from 1963 was seen as making £2/3 million and it went for £5 million. This is perhaps not surprising: While the Italian artist regarded white as his ideal color, three of the highest prices for Fontana cut works are for red abstracts.
Fontana’s cut works are instantly recognizable for billionaires looking for “boasting rights,” and this is also the case of Antony Gormley with his “Angle of the North.” Four bidders battled for a bronze maquette of the 20-year-old work. It was estimated at £1.5/2 million and sold for £2.9 million.
London art sales continue Thursday with Sotheby’s day sale and Phillips’s evening auction.
Founder Louise Blouin: http://www.blouinartinfo.com/artists/louise-blouin--2953510