Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction received strong bidding in the room and on phones to achieve high sell through rates of 92% by lot and 98% by value with 50% of works selling over estimate and 30% within estimate. The top three works of the night were by American artists that sold globally with buyers in Asia and Europe. Registered bidders from 39 countries across four continents demonstrated the continued demand in the global contemporary market, as well as a proven strength of the domestic market with 10 lots selling to UK-based collectors.
The top lot of the evening was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Pork (1981), selling over its high estimate for £5,122,500 / $6,838,538 / €6,167,490. A major draw, two works from the Collection of Johnny Depp were a highlight of the night, with Basquiat’s Self Portrait (1981) more than doubling its high estimate to reach £3,554,500 / $4,745,258 / €4,279,618 after a bidding war of 10 phone bidders. With both works dating from 1981, a pivotal year in Basquiat’s practice, Depp’s focused collecting eye met with keen approval in the sale room.
Records were achieved for Sean Scully’s Eve (1992), which sold for £902,500 / $1,204,838 / €1,086,610 and Manolo Millares’ Untitled (Composition) Painting no. 4 which achieved £842,500 / $1,124,738 / €1,014,370, with a record for the medium: Neo Rauch’s work on paper Stau (Congestion), selling for £326,500 $435,878 / €393,106. A total of 10 works sold for over £1 million, with 16 for over $1,000,000 and 17 for over €1,000,000.
Edmond Francey, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, London: “Tonight’s results offer real assurance and continued strength to the globalised art market, with a particularly energetic response to Adrian Ghenie, Andy Warhol, Nicolas de Staël, Georg Baselitz and Manolo Millares. The response to Johnny Depp’s Basquiats electrified the sale room and we continue to see that for the top works collectors will stretch themselves to the highest levels. Christie’s has been able to read the market and offer our consignors and buyers the quality that can continue to attract top collectors to the market. This evening’s total contributes to Christie’s successful 250th anniversary with a Bacon, two Freuds, two Rileys and two Auerbachs to come tomorrow as part of a stellar cast of artists, which we estimate will contribute a further £40-60 million to Post-War and Contemporary Art totals this week as part of the Defining British Art Evening Sale.”