Christie’s posted a record total for any auction ever with a $745m (£462.7m) premium-inclusive total at their evening sale of post-war and Contemporary art in New York last night (Tuesday, May 13). It now begs the question: how much further can this boom keep going?
Adding to the sum generated the previous night from
their If I Live I'll See You Tuesday auction (a
specialist sale aimed at the darker side of Contemporary art), the
combined figure for the two auctions at Christie's was $880m
(£546.6m), selling 98% by value and 95% by lot.
Christie's reported bidders from 35 countries who together
helped set 26 new artist records across the two sales, including
for Alexander Calder and Frank Stella. The auction house also
released premium-inclusive statistics showing two works selling for
over $80m, four for over $50m, 12 for over $20m, 19 for over $10m
and 86 for over $1m. In all, 80% of the lots were completely new to
the auction market, they said.
The top lot of the Tuesday sale was Barnett Newman's abstract
Black Fire I, which
doubled the previous record for the artist at $75m (£46.6m)
hammer, selling to an unnamed buyer.
Francis Bacon's Three Studies for a Portrait of John
Edwards followed close behind at $72m (£44.7m)
hammer, selling to an Asian private buyer.
The results put Newman's work at number nine in the top ten
prices ever achieved at auction in sterling terms, pushing out the
last remaining Old Master work, Rubens' Massacre of the
Innocents, which took £45m (then $68.4m) at Sotheby's in
London in July 2002.
Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.