records tumble at christies and sothebys

30 June 2011 § 1 Comment

Peter Doig - Red Boat

Shrugging off global economic worries this weeks contemporary art sales broke a series of records and confirmed the faith that buyers seem to have in the art market. Christies kicked off on Tuesday evening with an £80m total – their second highest ever. Star of the show was Francis Bacon’s Study for a Portrait which topped £18. A bunch of Warhols sold steadily with Mao, at £7m, the top lot, a nice Peter DoigRed Boat soared over its £1.4 low estimate to fetch £6m and a brilliant Lucien FreudWoman Sitting – made £4.7m.

Lucien Freud - Rabbit on a Chair

Kay Saatchi cleared out her attic and amongst her lots were a group of five very pretty Freud drawings. They all sold at around triple low estimate – perhaps because they were nice, perhaps due to a provenance beginning with Saa….. Losers were Chris Ofili whose two works went unsold (along with two of three in the day sale) – looks like the elephant dung bubble has burst?

Wednesdays Christies day sale was steady at £13m. The surprise of the day was that the two main offerings from Tracey Emin failed to sell – an appliqued blanket Something Really Terrible at £100-150k and a neon When I Go to Sleep  at £40-60k. Clearly the current Hayward show did not seem to inspire anyone (see my recent review). Meanwhile a nice batch of Picasso ceramics (in the contemporary sale?) flew out at £9-44k against estimates of £2-20k.

Sigmar Polke Dschungel

Over at Sothebys yesterdays evening sale cruised through the previous London Contemporary sale record to reach £109m. It was helped through the previous £95m mark from 2008 by the addition of the amazing Duerckheim Collection. A who’s who of German post-war art there were fabulous works from the likes of Sigmar Polke, Blinky Palermo, Georg Baselitz and AR Pencke. Gerhard Richter was particularly well represented with a good wonderful overview of his varied ouevre – colour charts, grey paintings, ‘abstrakte bilde’, photo-paintings and so on – the prices reflecting the high quality as they frequently doubled estimates, 1024 Farben at £4.2m the top lot. Polke’s auction record was broken three times in quick succession with a rare spot painting Dschungel  making £5.7. Palermo, Lupertz and Baselitz records were also set.

 

Gerhard Richter - Schwestern

In the rest of the sale Bacon (again) was top dog with Crouching Nude, at auction for the first time reaching £8.3m. Back nearer earth Ged Quinn‘s maintained his right to be in such exalted company with sales at £110k and £180k (Christies) against estimates of £60-80k.

Following hard on the heels of the recent impressionist and modern auctions where the total of the  ‘big two’s’ evening sales was the third highest on record the art market seems to have survived the financial meltdown in reasonable health. All eyes are now on Frieze and the October sales!

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