Christie’s evening sale of Contemporary art in New York last night posted a hammer total of $435.5m (£294.2m).
This was marginally shy of the $437.7m (£241,335) generated at
the famous 'Bloch-Bauer' sale at
Christie's New York in November 2006 - the most valuable
single sale in art market history.
However, since the buyer's premium has increased over the last
seven years, the premium-inclusive total of $495m (£334.5m) for the
current sale allowed Christie's to claim the 'highest total in
auction history'. The premium-inclusive total for the 'Bloch-Bauer'
sale was $491.5m (£271m).
The evening sale on May 15 saw record prices for major names
such as Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
and Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), along with nine other
artist's records, as the Contemporary art market moved to an
unprecedented level as the recent rises in global stock markets
seemed to add confidence to the sector.
Christie's head of post-War and contemporary art Brett Gorvy
said: "The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new
era in the art market, wherein seasoned collectors and new bidders
compete at the highest level within a global market."
The top lot of the auction was Pollock's Number 19,
1948. A trademark drip painting, the 2ft 7in x 221/2in (78 x
57cm) oil and enamel on paper mounted on canvas was a piece of
American abstract expressionism the like of which are currently
experiencing hot demand.
Having previously sold at auction for a premium-inclusive $2.42m
(£1.57m) at Christie's New York in May 1993, it was offered here
with an estimate of $25m-35m having been consigned by an American
foundation. On the night, it drew four interested parties and was
knocked down to an anonymous buyer at a premium-inclusive $52m
The previous auction high for Polllock was Number 4,
1951, which took $36m (£23.5m) hammer at Sotheby's New York
Another piece of abstract expressionism making a serious
contribution to the bottom line was Mark Rothko's (1903-1970)
Untitled (Black on Maroon) of 1958. Estimated at $15m-20m,
it sold to a US dealer at $24m (£16.2m).
Meanwhile, a new high came for pop artist Roy Lichtenstein when
Woman with Flowered Hat from 1963 was knocked down to a
European private buyer for $50m (£33.8m).
Consigned by an East Coast collector who had purchased it from
the Gagosian Gallery, it had an estimate on request and a symbol in
the catalogue denoted the auctioneers had issued a guarantee on the
Drawing multiple bidders, it was knocked down in the room to
London jeweller Laurence Graff.
The work itself was a pop-art version of a Picasso painting of
the same title and it overshot the $40m (£25.8m) seen for Roy
Lichtenstein's (1923-1997) Sleeping Girl which sold at
Sotheby's New York in May 2012.
A later Lichtenstein at the sale, Nude with Yellow
Flower from 1994 took $21m (£14.2m) to an anonymous buyer.
Arguably the most stunning price of the night however was the
$43.5m (£29.4m) for Dustheads by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The auction record for the artist has been broken on a number of
occasions in the last year, but the sum here for the acrylic,
oilstick, spray enamel and metallic paint on canvas from 1982
smashed the previous high of $23.5m (£15.4m) seen for an untitled
work from 1981 depicting a man fishing that sold at Christie's in
New York in November.
The large 6ft x 7ft (1.83 x 2.13m) picture had been acquired by
the vendor in 1996 and the estimate was set at $25m-35m. It was
also subject to a third party guarantee.
It sold to a European private buyer on the phone.
The buyer's premium was 25/20/12%.
£1 = $1.48m