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Christie’s sets £6.8m new high for Peter Doig

14 February 2013Written by Alex Capon

A trademark landscape by Peter Doig was among the most strongly contested lots at Christie’s latest evening sale of post-War and Contemporary art.

The Architect's Home in the Ravine fetched £6.8m on February 13, the highest price seen at auction for the artist.

This was in fact the third time the 1991 picture had appeared on the open market in the last 12 years. It was formerly owned by Charles Saatchi who bought it for £280,000 at Sotheby's in June 2002. He then sold it at Sotheby's in New York in May 2007 when it took $3.2m (£1.7m), selling to an American buyer who was the vendor here.

This time it was estimated at £4m-6m and had been subject to a third-party guarantee. On the night, it drew interest from four bidders and was knocked down to a European private buyer on the phone.

Having risen significantly in value each time it has appeared at auction, it demonstrates how Doig's large-scale Canadian landscapes from the 1990s have become some of the most sought after works in the Contemporary art market.

The work itself, a 6ft 7in x 8ft 3in  (2 x 2.5m) oil on canvas, depicts the modernist home of architect Eberhard Zeidler's in Rosedale at the heart of the Toronto ravine. It was painted shortly after Doig's graduation from the Chelsea College of Art and Design when he was awarded the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize.

Many of the works from this period are now housed within international museums including The House that Jacques Built (1992) in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Ski Jacket (1994) in the Tate Modern, London.

Securing Basquiat

Overall Christie's sale made a hammer total of £71m, with 65 of the 72 lots (90%) finding buyers. This was their highest-grossing February evening auction in this sector.

The sale's top lot was Jean-Michel Basquiat's Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown) which sold for £8.3m against a £7m-9m estimate. The fact that it had been withdrawn from Christie's New York in May 2012 following a legal dispute does not seem to have deterred bidders here as it sold to a European private buyer in the room who saw off interest on the telephone.

The 7ft (2.13m) square acrylic, oilstick and paper on canvas from 1983 was described by the auctioneers as a 'large scale painting that perfectly encapsulates the artist's powerful downtown graffiti style and vocabulary that marks the very best works in his oeuvre'.

Elsewhere, a Gerhard Richter abstract sold for £7.5m to a private buyer. It carried a third-party guarantee symbol in the catalogue but the estimate was unpublished.

There was also David Hockney's Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken Head from Thebes, a 6ft (1.83m) square oil on canvas from 1963 which was estimated at £2.5m-3.5m.

A work painted on the artist's first trip to Egypt at the age of 26, it had been in the same British collection for more than 40 years.

Selling to a private European buyer at £3.1m, it made the second highest price for Hockney at auction, only behind the $7m (£5m) seen for Beverly Hills Housewife sold at Christie's in May 2009.

The Christie's sale followed Sotheby's Contemporary art evening sale the night before which made a £65.1m hammer total and was led by a Francis Bacon triptych at £12.25m.

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