An important auction of contemporary sculpture and installation work was offered from the Saatchi Gallery collection this week at Christies. It realised a total of £3,086,350 / $4,935,074 / €3,635,720. The sale offered 50 works with no reserves and no estimates. Proceeds from the auction will support the Saatchi Gallery’s continuing policy for free entry to all exhibitions and free education programme for schools.
To accommodate the monumental scale and scope of the work, Thinking Big is on public view at The Sorting Office on New Oxford Street, a vast former postal depot in central London. The public exhibition continues until Sunday 20 October.
The top price of the auction was paid for To Meet My Past, a four poster bed by Tracey Emin, which sold for £481,875 / $770,518 / €567,649 – a world record price for the artist at auction. The sale represented artists from around the globe and attracted bidding and buying from 5 continents, including both private collectors and institutions. In total, 23 artist records were established representing 46% of the auction, and the top 3 prices were paid for works by female artists (Tracey Emin, Rebecca Warren and Berlinde de Bruyckere). Creating this new platform has lifted many artists and their markets to a more global forum.
Francis Outred, Christie’s Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: “This project has been a celebration of global sculpture in the 21st century and the work has been sold to foundations and private collections across the world. The work came from five continents and attracted bidding and buying across five continents. We made 23 artist records, including for six artists who hadn’t been offered at auction before. We are also thrilled that the exhibition has welcomed over 7,000 visitors since the weekend and that the auction attracted such interest, raising such a significant sum in support of the Saatchi Gallery’s policy of free entry and free art education. The Saatchi Gallery was the first art space in the UK to show a whole host of artists before they became household names, from Jeff Koons and Bruce Nauman to Andreas Gursky, Sigmar Polke and Damien Hirst, and the contemporary art scene would not be what it is today without their vision. We are thrilled to have been able to work with them over the past year in presenting this exhibition and auction.”
Philippa Adams, Senior Director, Saatchi Gallery: “We are thrilled that so many of these works have been acquired by some of the world’s great collections. Christie’s enthusiasm for this venture has helped us maintain our policy of free admission to all our exhibitions, and to develop our free education programme, which show students from the 2000 schools each year the exciting new art we find from around the world.”
Thinking Big featured the work of 50 artists who have been shown at the Saatchi Gallery, including YBAs, such as Tracey Emin and the Chapman brothers, as well as newer talents such as Toby Ziegler, Kader Attia, Conrad Shawcross, Kris Martin and Sterling Ruby. The many leading contemporary artists included Berlinde de Bruyckere, whose work at the Belgian Pavilion was a highlight of the 2013 Venice Biennale; Gert and Uwe Tobias, who had a solo show at London’s Whitechapel Gallery earlier this year; and David Altmejd, Karla Black and Liu Wei, all of whom were selected for Art Basel’s Art Unlimited show of large-scale sculpture this year.