Christie’s Sets Record For Highest Total For Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale

Christie’s has made history with its Post-War and Contemporary Art sale by setting the record for the highest total achieved for any auction. The auction totalled $852,887,000 (£535,986,570/ €682,309,600), with strong sell-through rates of 97% by value and 94% by lot. Bidders from around the world competed for an exceptional array of Abstract Expressionist, Pop and Contemporary works from some of the century’s most inspiring and influential artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Martin Kippenberger, Cy Twombly, and Jeff Koons.

“This was a sale of extraordinary quality and range, with every major artist represented by at least one masterwork,” said Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art. “The landmark sale result achieved tonight is a reflection of both growing global enthusiasm and demand in this category and a virtuous cycle of confidence in the art market that brings a fresh supply of exciting, high-quality works into the market with each new season.”

Steven Murphy, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer stated: “This is truly a moment in art history. Tonight’s result is a testimony to the depth of interest in art across the globe, and to the talent of the Christie’s team. This sale may have produced an eye catching number, but record museum attendance and record art sales at Christie’s on every continent in all areas and price levels proves that enjoying works of art has become a universal pursuit in our time.”

The sale featured a range of superlative works from distinguished private collections and institutions, such as the Cy Twombly Foundation, the Linda Pace Foundation, The Bergman Collection, and the Lisa de Kooning Trust. The majority of the works offered have been featured in one or several museum exhibitions and almost half of them were completely new to the market. 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.

Following exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the Americas, the team presented the works in a way, which created a dialogue between each other, offering a better understanding for both seasoned and new collectors. Since its opening, the exhibition in Rockefeller Plaza attracted more than 8000 visitors and saw 500 registrants to the evening sale from 34 countries. Through Christie’s dedicated website, we have succeeded in developing a much larger audience of visitors, with more than 35,000 unique visitors online coming from 112 countries, 57% of them totally new to Christies, and half a million followers on our social media platforms.

At the zenith of the art market is Andy Warhol with several major works presented in the sale, including the highly anticipated Triple Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963 and Four Marlons, 1966. Sold by the German Westdeutsche Spielbanken GMBH & CO. KG. Triple Elvis [Ferus Type] and Four Marlons, achieved respectively a spectacular $81,925,000 (£51,612,750/ €65,540,000) and $69,605,000 (£43,851,150/ €55,684,000) after fierce bidding between eight telephone bidders and several persistent clients in the saleroom.

Achieving a world auction record for the artist at $30,405,000 (£19,155,150/ €24,324,000) after a 4-minute bidding battle between 4 collectors, Ed Ruscha’s Smash was an early example from the 1960s of one of the artist’s revolutionary word paintings, a body of work which established him as one of the most innovative and influential painters of his generation.

In the artist’s personal collection since its inception, Willem de Kooning’s Clamdigger was sold for $29,285,000 (£18,449,550/ €23,428,000) a world auction record price for a sculpture by the artist. This milestone in modern sculpture was sold by the artist’s three grand-daughters. Masterfully executed, Cy Twombly’s Untitled was presented on the market for the first time, having resided in the same private collection for the past 40 years. This work, from the famous series of Blackboard paintings made between 1966 and 1971, achieved $69,605,000 (£43,851,150/ €55,684,000), setting a new world auction record for the artist.

The contemporary selection of the sale saw exceptionally strong international demand for Untitled by Martin Kippenberger, which exceeded the artist’s record when it sold for $22,565,000 (£14,215,950/ €18,052,000). Staggeringly beautiful, Jeff Koons’s monumental sculpture Balloon Monkey (Orange) fetched $25,925,000 (£16,332,750 / €20,740,000). We saw strong international bidding on Gerhard Richter’s vibrant Abstraktes Bild (648-3) which sold for $31,525,000 (£19,860,750/ €25,220,000) while Abstraktes Bild (774-4) sold by the Linda Pace Foundation achieved $16,965,000 (£10,687,950/ €13,572,000). Proceeds from the sale of this work will be used to realize an arts campus in San Antonio, Texas, the home of the Foundation.

Photographs widely regarded as one of the most influential and original bodies of work to emerge from the Contemporary art scene, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills transcend the boundaries of both conceptual art and photography. Carefully selected and acquired by the renowned curator and collector Ydessa Hendeles, the 21 works sold for $6,773,000 (£4,266,990/ € 5,418,400) the highest price for the artist at auction.

Christie’s was also honored to present a few works from the Cy Twombly Foundation, acquired by Twombly in the 1960s. This extraordinary group of works by Lichtenstein, Nauman, and Warhol, represented one of the most creative and rich periods in Post-War American art, which emerged in the 1960s. The haunting and powerful Electric Chair achieved $6,045,000 (£3,808,350/ €4,836,000), while the beautiful black and white Roy Lichtenstein Hot Dog and 10¢ flew above their estimates at $4,421,000 (£2,785,230/ €3,536,800) and $2,741,000 (£1,726,830/ € 2,192,800), respectively.

Five works by Joseph Cornell from the Bergman Collection were offered at auction, led by Cockatoo and Watches Aviary, sold for $4,757,000 (£2,996,910/ €3,805,600), which was made circa 1948 – 50, and was the cover of the catalogue published on the occasion of the artist’s retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1981.


Cy Twombly (1928-2011), Untitled, oil based house paint and wax crayon on canvas, Executed in 1970

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937), Smash, oil on canvas, Painted in 1963

Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997), Untitled, oil on canvas Painted in 1988

Peter Doig (b. 1959), Pine House (Rooms for Rent), oil on canvas, Painted in 1994

Arshile Gorky (1904-1948), Child’s Companions, oil and graphite on canvas, painted in 1945

Georg Baselitz (b. 1938), Der Brückechor (The Brücke Chorus), oil on canvas, Painted in 1983

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), White No. 28, oil on canvas, Painted in 1960

Cindy Sherman (B. 1954), Untitled Film Stills, 21 gelatin silver prints, 1977/1978/1979/1980

Mark Tansey (b. 1949), Land Fall, oil on canvas, Painted in 2007

Sturtevant (1926-2014), Lichtenstein, Frighten Girl, oil and graphite on canvas, painted in 1966

Seth Price (b. 1973), Vintage Bomber, vacuum formed high-impact polystyrene, Executed in 2006


Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), Clamdigger, bronze, Executed in 1972. WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST IN THE MEDIUM

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Girl in Mirror, porcelain enamel on steel, executed in 1964 WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR A MULTIPLE BY THE ARTIST

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Hot Dog, graphite, brush and India ink, pochoir and lithographic rubbing crayon on Japanese paper, Executed in 1964.

Bruce Nauman (b. 1941), William T. Wiley or Ray Johnson Trap, gelatin silver print, Executed in 1967 WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR A PHOTOGRAPH BY THE ARTIST

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