By SHIREEN LOHRASBE, JAN. 2015
NOVEMBER 4TH MARKED THE IMPRESSIONIST & Modern Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s New York. The Imp-Mod auction achieved $422.1 Million with 79% of lots sold. More specifically, the post-release read: “Tonight’s historic results bookend an exceptional year for Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby’s – our fourth consecutive year as leaders in this market. We opened this February with our best ever sale in London, and tonight set a new benchmark for any auction in the Company’s 270-year history. We were particularly thrilled to see two sculptures command prices commensurate with the most coveted paintings, with Giacometti’s masterful Chariot becoming the second sculpture to cross the $100 million threshold. Participation in tonight’s sales came from 40 countries, with the highest proportions coming from the United States, Europe and of course Asia, the new home of Van Gogh’s stunning Still Life.”
SOTHEBY’S LONDON HELD ITS INAUGURAL “20th Century Art – A Different Perspective” auction on November 12, 2014. The 74-lot auction grossed £1,863,313/ $2,967,512 (81.1% sold by lot) with focus on modern artworks from European artists “[a]t the forefront of the intellectual avant-garde in Europe between the First and Second World Wars… The spotlight also shone to great effect on rare Egyptian works when a remarkable group by the likes of Younan and El Telmissany drew multiple bids, resulting in prices soaring above their estimates. Numerous new artist records were achieved, including for works by Max Dungert, Georg Hartmann, Eduard Stepančič, Lajos von Ebneth, Vitali Zolotoukhin, Ramses Younan, Kamel El Telmissany, Jakub Ciezki and Julia Cybis.”
ON NOVEMBER 12TH, CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK held its Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, which totaled an outstanding $852,887,000. Together, the PwC series of day and evening sales grossed $964.8 Million. Of 80 lots, 75 sold—97% by value and 94% by lot—with global bidder participation from 40+ countries. The post-sale release stated: “Leading the sale, Warhol’s Triple Elvis and Four Marlons achieved $81.9 and $69.6 million… The sale established 11 new world auction records, selling 3 works for over $50 million, 23 for over $10 million and 69 for over $1 million. 38% of lots sold above the high estimate, and 43% of lots sold within the pre-sale estimate range. Two additional sales, the Day Sale, and an online-only auction will complete this week’s sales series.” The aforementioned 11 records were set for artists such as Georg Baselitz, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman.
SOTHEBY’S EQUIVALENT NEW YORK-BASED sale transpired a day earlier. The contemporary auction raised $343,677,000—surpassing the low-end of its pre-estimate but failing to exceed its $380.6M total from last November. Luckily, the sale presented a number of master contemporary pieces such as Jasper Johns’ famous “Flag” unearthed from a private collection. Of the 78 lots, 67 sold. Co-Head of Sotheby’s Global Contemporary Art Department Alexander Rotter expressed: “Having known and admired Jasper Johns’ final encaustic Flag for decades, we were thrilled to see it establish a new record for the artist at auction. Tonight's sale was anchored by The Schlumberger Collection and the outstanding prices achieved for works that had been tucked away in that legendary collection for a generation, including Mark Rothko’s sublime No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) and Jean Dubuffet’s masterful Cité Fantoche, which also set a new record.”
THE 9TH CONTEMPORARY İSTANBUL ran November 13–16. The fair, sponsored by Akbank Private Banking, showcased 108 galleries from 22 participant countries representing 520 artists. Cİ’s 2014 edition welcomed 13,000 visitors.
SOTHEBY’S AMERICAN ART SALE set the new world record for a female artist (alive or deceased). On November 20th Georgia O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1" sold for $44.4 Million, quadrupling the low-end of its pre-estimate. The floral painting originally belonged to the artist’s sister then family estate and moved to the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico before being put up at auction (proceeds went directly to the museum’s acquisitions fund). The painting’s new owner—an anonymous phone bidder—competed against seven other prospective buyers. At $44.4M, the work took the reigns from an untitled painting by the late Joan Mitchell, which sold at Christie’s last May for $11.9M. Comparatively, Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” currently holds the title for most expensive work ever sold at auction. The triptych sold at Christie’s in 2013 for a staggering $142.4 Million.
RUSSIAN ART WEEK IN LONDON transpired November 21–28. The bi-annual event showcases Russian art from every medium and period with coinciding participation from major auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, MacDougall’s and Bonhams. The current market leader (in Russian art) Sotheby’s, grossed £10.8 Million/$1.5 Million during its auction. Additionally, main competitor Christie’s sold 8 of the top 10 lots during the week.
THE FIRST EDITION OF SINGAPORE ART FAIR took place November 27–30. SA Art highlighted 60 galleries including 20 solo artist booths. Highlighting art across the ME.NA.SA region (Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia), Singapore Art Fair is organized by Orchilys Pte Ltd., a joint venture between MP Singapore and CEDRALYS (of the internationally renowned Beirut Art Fair).
THE 13TH EDITION OF ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH ran the first week in December. Sponsored by lead partner UBS, the fair featured 267 galleries from 31 countries. Furthermore, “73,000 international visitors attended the 2014 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach, with artists, collectors, gallerists, curators and art enthusiasts creating the excitement that makes this singular event a remarkable way to encounter art.”
CHRSTIE’S HELD ITS SECOND INDIAN AUCTION mid-December grossing $12 Million (slightly lower than last year’s $15M total) with artist V.S. Gaitonde as the main attractor. Shanoor Seervai at The Wall Street Journal detailed: “Last December, at the London-based auction house’s first India sale, one of Mr. Gaitonde’s paintings fetched $3.8 million, the highest price ever paid in India for a modern work of art and an auction record for the artist.This time, the bidding for Mr. Gaitonde’s untitled work started just under $500,000, and within minutes it was sold for $1.06 million to an anonymous Asian telephone bidder, making it the third-costliest lot of the evening.” WM
Shireen holds a BBA in Design & Management from Parsons The New School for Design and an MA in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York. She has contributed to several online publications including Art Observed, Quintessentially Art, and Whitewall Magazine. Shireen is a regular art market contributor at Whitehot Magazine.view all articles from this author