Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who were impacted by the storm. All of us live on the South Shore of Long Island and had varying degrees of damage … but we are alive and well (albeit a little cold, stressed and tired). We also appreciate the many emails we have already received from our friends, clients and readers … your concern means a lot to us.
Next up was the public forum and the action here started on the evening of the 10th with a small contemporary sale at Phillips. Top lots were Basquiat’s Big Joy which sold for £2.6M ($4.2M – est. £2.5-£3.5M) – so it made the number with the buyer’s premium added in; Richter’s Abstraktes Bild at £2.45M ($3.9M – est. £2.5-£3.5M) and Warhol’s Watches at £1M ($1.6M – est. £1-£2M) … so actually, none of the hammer prices hit their estimate.
When the evening was over, of the 36 works offered 24 sold (67%) and the total take was £12.2M (19.4M) – the low end of the estimate range was £15M so they fell far short.
On the 11th they followed with their Day Sale in which the top lot was an Aaron Curry (who?) sculpture that brought £46.8K ($75K – est. £40-£60K). As a matter of fact, I only knew one of the top ten artists in this day sale … I must be getting old! When this session ended another £3.9M ($6.3M) worth of art found new homes and the sell-through rate was 68%.
That evening Christie’s presented their important Post-War, Contemporary and Italian works. Up first were the Post-War & Contemporary and Kippenberger’s Untitled was the top lot at £3.2M ($5.1M – est. £2.5–£3.5M). In second was Richter’s 5 Doors II at £2.2M ($3.5M – est. £1.5-£2M) and in third was Barcelo’s Areneros y muleros (1990) at £2.1M ($3.3M - est. £2-£3M). When this first part ended, of the 61 works offered 45 sold (74%) and the total was £23M ($36.8M) … according to their press department they were expecting around £21M – so they made their number with the buyer’s premium.
Next up were the Italian works and the action here was just a bit stronger. In the top slot was Manzoni’s Achrome, circa 1959, at £2.6M ($3.7M – est. £1.8-£2.5m) while second, third and fourth places were taken by our old friend Lucio Fontana whose works sold between £2.5M and £881K ... all selling within or above their estimates (when the buyer’s premium was added in). When this section was finished, of the 44 works offered 41 sold (93% - nice) and the total take was £18.2M ($29M) they were expecting around £14M … that was a strong showing.
When combined, the full evening session brought in £41.2M ($65.9M) with 85 (81%) of the 105 works selling … not too bad, but there was a surprise on the horizon.
On the 12th they presented their Day Sale (no, the surprise was not here). The top three artists here were Ufan, Richter (who was about to become the flavor of the year) and Fontana (there were a huge number of works by him offered that week and most did rather well). Of the 193 lots offered 131 sold (68%) and the total take was £8M ($12.9M) -- just about the level they were expecting.
That evening Sotheby’s offered their important Italian, Post War & Contemporary works. Here the order was reversed with the Italian works coming first and the top lot was Manzoni’s Achrome, 1959 at £4M ($6.4M – est. £2.2-£2.6M … the seller bought the work in 2007 for £2.3M - $4.6M) -- yes, both sales had works by the artist with the same title … but as we have seen, many contemporary artists are not very creative when it comes to titling their works. Second and third places was taken by Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, 1964 which made £1.9M ($3M – est. £1-£1.5M – bought in 2004 for $422K) and Concetto Spaziale, 1961 at £1.55M ($2.5M – est. £1.6-£2M. In fact, 4 of the top 10 were by Fontana – guess a lot of people like those slashed canvases.
When this section was finished, of the 33 works offered 25 (75.8%) sold and the total take was £15.6M ($25M) ... not as strong at Christie’s, but not bad! However the real fireworks were about to happen.
Next came the Post War & Contemporary works and the top lot here was Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (809-4) which brought a record price for any living artist when it made £21.3M ($34.2M – est. £9-£12M). Now the seller, Eric Clapton (yes the musician), bought the work (with two others) back in 2001 for $3.4M in New York … wow … that works out to about 30 times his purchase price in 11 years – pretty impressive! In second place came Yves Klein’s RE 9-1, 1961 at £3.7M ($6M – est. £2-£3M) and in third was another Richter, also titled Abstraktes Bild (this one numbered 840-2), at £1.9M ($3.1M – est. £1-£1.5M). When this session ended, of the 53 works offered 47 sold (88.7%) and the total take was £44.1M ($70.8M) ... the high end of their estimate range was £39.4M.
When the evening ended, the two sessions offered 86 works, sold 72 (83.7%) and brought in £59.7M ($95.5M). Very nice and much more than the competition … but once again it all came down to: what a difference a painting can make. Had Clapton not sold his work, the results from the two rooms would have been pretty similar ... in fact, Christie’s would have come out slightly ahead.
On the 13th Sotheby’s offered its day sale and taking the top slot here was Wade Guyton’s Untitled at £421K ($677K – est. £80-£120K) – I found this interesting since the piece was only created in 2010; in addition, the medium was Epson ultrachrome inkjet on linen and the subject was a white canvas (84 x 69 inches) with 6 black squares. Oh well … all I can say is beauty is in the eye of the beholder!! In second was Riley’s very colorful Cool Places at £337K ($542K – est. 280-350K) and in third was yet another Richter Abstraktes Bild (from 1988) at £325K ($523K – est. £200-£300K). Now you are probably wondering how does one Richter make $34M and another make just $523K … well, the most notable difference between the two works is that the Clapton painting was 88 ½ x 78 ¾ while this one was a mere 10 ½ x 13 ½ inches. Now for our price per square inch fans (psi), the Clapton painting works out to about $4950 psi while the other comes to $4020 psi … so there really isn’t much of a difference when size is considered.
At the end of day sale of the 257 catalogues works 68.4% sold for a total take of £10.2M ($16.4M). And when all totaled, Sotheby’s brought in £69.9M ($112.1M).
I had planned on covering the 19th century sale in NYC at the end of the month, but then Sandy decided to pay us a visit. In turn, the sale was postponed a few days and since I live on the South Shore of Long Island I really did not have time to review it … I will include the sale in next month’s update.
Gallery Updates: Another reminder that we will be in Dallas this week.
Web Site Updates: A whole bunch of works made their way through the gallery this month; included were paintings by: Corot, Boudin, Munier, Richet, Bennett, 2 Ridgway Knights, a number of works by Cortes and Blanchard and a Pousette-Dart. We have added, or will be adding, a number of new works to the web site by Corot, Dawson, Dupre, Cortes, Blanchard, Koeppel, Combes and Pousette-Dart.