Records topple in modern art bonanza
Friday May 13, 2005
The biggest ever
sale of post-war and contemporary art has taken place at Christie's
in New York, with the auction house raising $133.7m (£72m) in
a single night.
Bacon's 1979 work Seated Figure, which was sold to a private
buyer for $3.9m at Christie's
by Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning leading the way, fetching
$14m and $13.1m respectively including commission, the monumental
sale provided ample evidence of a strong art market in the
face of a continuously unsteady economy.
Chair Car from 1965, one of the last works by the American
artist left in private hands, was billed as the sale's highlight,
interest in the piece was muted with only two bidders vying
at the upper echelons before the hammer came down.
Still, the rare
Hopper, which was bought by New York's Berry Hill Galleries,
smashed the previous record for the artist of $2.42m which had
stood since 1990.
It was a different
matter with de Kooning's 1949 Sail Cloth, which provoked one
of the longest bidding wars in recent memory before finally
selling to an anonymous telephone bidder.
officials said afterward that the total take easily eclipsed
the previous record for any contemporary auction of $102.1m,
which it set only a year ago.
chairman, Marc Porter, noted that the strong results of the
past two weeks (with the exception of Sotheby's impressionist
auction) had paid testament to the strength of the current
speaks to the material well-being of a significant portion
of the population," Mr Porter said. "Many people
see art as a strong and prudent store of capital, with enormous
psychic benefits as well."
In all, 11
of the 76 works on the block failed to sell, while virtually
all that sold did so either within or above their pre-sale
estimates. The total for the sale fell right in the middle
of the $111-153m estimate.
Other top lots
included Andy Warhol's large-scale Flowers, from the pop artist's
seminal series, which fetched $7,85m or just over its low
estimate of $7m, and an untitled Mark Rothko from 1964 which
went for $10.09m, beating its high estimate.
set for 17 artists including Philip Guston, whose The Street
from 1956 sold for $7.29m or nearly twice the high estimate
and more than triple the old mark, and Franz Kline, whose
Crow Dancer from 1958 fetched $6.4m.
were set by Arshile Gorky, Joseph Cornell, Isamu Noguchi and
Sigmar Polke, and for a Jasper Johns sculpture and a Roy Lichtenstein
work on paper.