Sotheby’s evening sale of Contemporary Art in New York has achieved a staggering $242,194,000 £167,689,576.22 The result included several record prices for artists. “Tonight we achieved exactly what we set out to do: tailor a sale to the market’s current taste. You only had to count the number of hands in the air for works as diverse as the 2012 Ghenie, Calder from the Barr Collection, and sublime paintings by Sam Francis and Francis Bacon to see that collectors continue to show up when presented with great and rare works of art. The sustained bidding from colleagues in Asia as well as Europe and the US underscored the strength of our team, both new and long-tenured, and their relationships with clients around the globe.” – Grégoire Billault, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary, New York
Cy Twombly’s Untitled (New York City) was the highlight of the sale, selling for $36,650,000: Acquired by the consigner months after it was painted, Untitled (New York City) was shown to the public for the first time at the pre-sale exhibitions. The present lot is the artist’s only Blackboard painting executed in blue wax crayon. Also on offer tonight was the artist’s Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V), which sold for $15,370,000 in the first appearance for the series at auction.
Praised as Francis Bacon’s finest self-portrait, Two Studies for a Self-Portrait from 1970 was sought by five bidders before fetching $34,970,000 (est. $22/30 million). Purchased from Marlborough Fine Art the year it was completed, the present lot has remained in the same private collection for the last 46 years. Was featured on the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel’s definitive book Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits.
Sam Francis’s Summer #1 sold for $11,842,000 (est. $8/12 million) after competition by 5 determined bidders: A new world auction for the artist. Last appeared at auction in 1986 when it sold for $825,000. Graced the cover of the artist’s catalogue raisonné.
Distinguished provenance continues to drive prices: Alexander Calder’s Untitled standing mobile, gifted by the artist to Alfred H. Barr Jr., founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, was highly sought after, with eight bidders driving up the final price to $8,314,000 (est. $3/4 million) – the top price for Calder.
Coming to Sotheby’s from the esteemed collection of the Morton G. Neumann family, Alberto Burri’s Sacco sold for $7,306,000 (est. $6/8 million) following the record set at Sotheby’s London in February. Sold by the Irma and Norman Braman Art Foundation, David Smith’s Zig I, a wonderful example from the artist’s mature period, fetched $9,210,000 (est. $8/12 million).
Mr. Yusaku Maezawa: We are delighted to confirm that Mr. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese businessman and collector, who also runs a foundation, was the successful purchaser of two lots in tonight’s sale: Adrian Ghenie’s Self Portrait as Vincent Van Gogh from 2012, which soared to a price of $2,590,000, more than eight times the high estimate; and Christopher Wool’s Untitled from 1990, which achieved $13,914,000, making it the top price for the artist this week at any auction house.
New to the New York Evening Sale: Untitled by Günther Förg sold for $670,000 (est. $250/350,000) after bidding from four collectors. Kerry James Marshall appeared in a Sotheby’s Evening Sale for the first time, with Vignette #5 achieving $970,000 (est. $500/700,000). Christian Marclay’s Boneyard sells for $550,000 – an auction record for the artist.