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The New Auction Normal – Sotheby’s Online Evening Pt. 1

July 22, 2020
Lee Krasner - Re-Echo

Lee Krasner – Re-Echo

Being back at the gallery has really cut into all this free time I’ve gotten used to… going to play a little catch-up on some sales from a few weeks back. At the end of June, Sotheby’s hosted a trio of evening sales in succession… online evening sales. These were the big spring sales that were pushed off from May; and by this point they were far slimmer than anticipated. Each individual sale was relatively small, with roughly 20-30 works… and while I expected it to go relatively quickly, it dragged on until nearly midnight (more than 5 hours for less than 100 lots!)

Joan Mitchell - Straw

Joan Mitchell – Straw

Things got started with The Ginny Williams Collection – just 18 works were offered… that said, all of them sold. The top lot was Lee Krasner’s Re-Echo which topped it’s $4-6M estimate as it hammered for $7.7M ($9.03M w/p); it was seemingly guaranteed at $3.9M from what I gleaned from few choice words by the auctioneer. Just behind was a work by Joan Mitchell, which also surpassed expectations, as it hammered for $7.5M ($8.8M) on a $5-7M estimate. There was a tie for the third highest price at $6.7M… another work by Mitchell – Garden Party estimated to bring between $4-6M – and the biggest surprise of the bunch being a work by Helen Frankenthaler which was only expected to sell between $2-3M… with the premium, those lots work out to $7.9M.

Joan Mitchell - Garden Party

Joan Mitchell – Garden Party

In total, 8 lots topped their estimate, 8 sold within their range… leaving just two works selling below their estimate. That said, they did achieve an impressive 100% sell-through rate… we won’t mention the fact that all 18 lots were guaranteed prior to the sale… oh, oops.

Helen Frankenthaler - Royal Fireworks

Helen Frankenthaler – Royal Fireworks

Collectively, the lots were expected to bring between $35.9- 51.7M, so they well outpaced the projection even with a couple of poor performance, as the sale totaled $55M ($65.4M w/p). Not a bad way to get the evening started.