Sotheby’s London Contemporary Evening Sale Achieves £52,194,000 Despite Brexit Decision

Sotheby’s London evening sale has achieved £52,194,000 / $69,350,168 / €62,580,802 this was above the high estimate despite the Brexit decision which is engulfing British politics.  

“It’s clear that the passion for collecting continues to override any broader concerns about the economy. The geographical spread of the artists in tonight’s sale was matched by the global mix of bidders – we saw Asian collectors bidding on Western artists, and Western collectors bidding on Asian artists. After tonight we can now look forward with real confidence.” – Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art Europe 

Included in the sales was a record price for Jenny Saville: Shift (1996-7) makes £6.8m / $9.1m / €8.2m 

The painting was last exhibited at the iconic exhibition “Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection”, Shift merits its revered place in art history as the standout work of Saville’s prodigious career. Offered at auction for the first time tonight, the painting tripled the artist’s previous auction record of £2.1m ($3.5million) set in 2014. (Lot 25, Est. £1.5-2m / $2.2-2.9m). 

Shift was purchased on the phone by Jen Hua, Sotheby’s representative in Beijing, on behalf of Wang Wei, director of the Long Museum. The work will be included in the forthcoming “She” exhibition of works by international female artists at the Long Museum (West Bund), July 27th to October 30th 2016. 

Record for Keith Haring: The Last Rainforest (1989) makes £4.2m / $5.6m / €5m. Never before offered at auction, this is Keith Haring’s last great masterpiece, painted just before his death in February 1990. The work has remained in the collection of Haring’s friend and renowned photographer David LaChapelle since 2005. LaChapelle recalls first seeing the painting: “I just fell in love with [it]. I thought it was prophetic… He had a sense of his time running out, and he really wanted to say something with these works.” (Lot 15, Est. £2-3m / $2.9-4.3m). Sotheby’s now holds the top five prices for Haring at auction. Previous auction record for Haring: £2.9m / $4.9m set at Sotheby’s New York, May 2014. 

Three works by Jean Dubuffet: kept in a private collection for three decades. Barbe de Lumière des Aveuglés (Beard of Blinding Light) from 1959 (only the third work from Haring’s celebrated Barbes (Beards) series to come to auction) was driven by four bidders to £3.2m / $ 4.2m / €3.8m (Lot 9, Est. £1.2-1.8m / $1.7-2.6m). An early Dubuffet from 1943, Personnage au Bicorne soared to £1.3m / $1.8m / €1.6m (Lot 10, Est. £250,000-350,000 / $363,000-510,000). A double portrait last sold in 1985, Ménage en Gris, Outremer et Carmin, (1945) totalled £1.5m / $1.9m / €1.7m (Lot 11, Est. £1-1.5m / $1.5-2.2m). 

Adrian Ghenie: Seven bidders drove Ghenie’s The Hunted (2010) to £1.9m / $2.5m / €2.2m – among the top three prices for the artist at auction (Lot 12, Est. £400,000-600,000 / $580,000-870,000). The artist’s Self-Portrait as a Monkey (2011) more than tripled the pre-sale estimate to make £665,000 / $883,586 / €797,338 (Lot 13, est. £150,000-200,000 / $217,000-290,000). Sotheby’s now holds the top five prices for Ghenie at auction. 

A Private Swedish Collection: This summer’s sales of Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern art were distinguished by the sale of a Swedish collection of 25 works, a testament to an entire generation of post-war Scandinavian collectors whose tastes were moulded by the early curation of The Moderna Museet (founded in 1958), and its legendary first curator, Pontus Hultén. 

Tonight’s sale opened with four works from the collection (lots 1-4) that all sold above their high-estimates. Among them was an early Yves Klein, Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 217) – one of only 11 works included in the artist’s ground-breaking Galleria Apollinaire show in 1957 that launched Klein’s career and “blue period”. It sold for £2.2m / $2.9m / €2.6m this evening (Lot 3, Est. £1.5-2m / $2.2-2.9m). 

Seven bidders vied for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets (2006) from the same collection – a superb example from the artist’s most celebrated series. The work sold for £670,000 / $899,530 / €811,726 (Lot 1, Est. £200,000-300,000 / $290,000-434,000) – ten times the £63,650 paid for the work at Sotheby’s in 2010.

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