This year’s Frieze week auction totals in London were largely consistent with 2011, but the much-publicised sale of Eric Clapton’s prize abstract by Gerhard Richter (b.1932) proved crucial in bolstering the overall figures.
The combined hammer total for the sales at Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips de Pury was £115m, compared to £107m for 2011*.
Richter's Abstraktes Bild (809-4) was pitched at £9m-12m at Sotheby's Contemporary art evening sale on October 12 but was the kind of über-consignment that would normally feature in the more lucrative summer sales.
It sold at £19m to an anonymous phone bidder, setting a record for a living artist, the price demonstrated how the market for the 80-year-old German painter has risen since Clapton bought it as part of a trio of Richters sold as a single lot for $3.4m (£2.43m) at Sotheby's in 2001. The sum also contributed roughly half the £38.4m total (estimate: £28.5m-39.4m) at Sotheby's 53-lot evening sale, which saw 47 works (89%) sell.
Christie's 61-lot evening sale on October 11 came in at £19.7m, below the estimate of £21m-29.9m, with 45 lots (74%) finding buyers. It was led by an untitled painting by Martin Kippenberger (1953-97) from 1992 which sold at £2.8m to a dealer in room.
Phillips de Pury's slimmer 36-lot Contemporary art evening sale on October 10 also came in below estimate. On the night, 24 lots (67%) found takers and the total was £10.4m against expectations of £14m-22.1m.
*Please note, these totals include the Contemporary art day sales and Italian art auction held in London during Frieze week.