Christie’s had high hopes for their Francis Bacon Study of Red Pope (1962), expecting it to make at least £60M/$78M. Well, nobody wanted to take the plunge and create a new record price for a single piece by the artist — that happened in 2014 when someone paid £42.4 million for the 1966 Portrait of George Dyer Talking. And let’s not forget that in 2013 Elaine Wynn bought his triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud for an amazing $142M.
So it turned out that Basquiat’s Red Skull would take the lead at £16.5 million. Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa was active, purchasing Antony Gormley’s 28 foot sculpture A Case for an Angel 1 for £5.3M ($6.2M).
There were a few other sizable failures including works by Doig, Saville and Hirst. This left Christie’s with a total of £99.5M ($130.1M) … well short of its expected £139M. But they did put a positive spin on it stating that nonetheless, it was their second highest total for a Contemporary sale in Europe.