Day two of Christie’s Thursday through Saturday sale streak involved an enormous post-war and contemporary collection. The entire sale took nearly all day Friday, lasting from 9:30 in the morning to around 7:00 at night. Christie’s broke up the several hundred lots into three sessions, with the second part made up of the remaining pieces from the Ammann Collection. But honestly, having a brief pause between each session didn’t really lessen any of the fatigue viewers may have experienced. I commend the small, merry band of auctioneers for keeping their spirits up over the ten hours the sale went on.
The three top lots came and went within the auction’s first session. Two of them were back-to-back lots, both works by Wayne Thiebaud. The American pop painter, who passed away last December, had four pieces featured in the sale, all of them reaching or exceeding their estimates. The painting Three Ice Cream Cones, relatively small for a multimillion dollar work measuring 12 by 15 inches, was predicted to bring in anywhere between $2.5M and $3.5M, with the hammer coming down at $4.1M (or $4.98M w/p). Immediately after that, Thiebaud’s Yo-Yo’s fell within estimate and sold for $2.6M (or $3.18M w/p). But a little later on, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) tied Thiebaud for the top lot, also selling for $4.1M (or $4.98M w/p). The Warhol work is a six-foot by fifteen-foot series of ten, brightly-colored Marilyn Monroe portraits, very much keeping with Warhol’s style and choice of subject. This particular series has spent nearly its entire life in a German private collection.
Of course, with a sale this long, there were bound to be some surprises here and there. Ernie Barnes continued to receive buyers’ attention following the impressive $13M sale of his painting The Sugar Shack on Thursday. The following day, his painting Storm Dance, showing a group of men playing basketball against a darkening sky, sold for $1.9M (or $2.34M w/p), over twelve times the specialists’ $150K pre-sale estimate. Equally as impressive was the abstract painter Lynne Drexler’s oil on canvas work Herbert’s Garden. While valued at $100K, it similarly exceeded its estimate twelve times over when the hammer came down at $1.2M (or $1.5M w/p). The nearly three hundred fifty lots brought in $78.8M, a couple million dollars more than Christie’s specialists initially expected. This continued the successful string of auctions that extended into Saturday’s sale of impressionist works on paper.