Contemporary Art Auctions Point To Economic Recovery

Sotheby’s Christie’s and Phillips produce healthy results

This week has been an important one for the art market, with London’s leading auction houses all hosting major contemporary art sales to coincide with Frieze week.

The Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale saw a total sale value of £17,809,000, the third-highest recorded total for their October Contemporary Art sales. A new artist record was set for Leon Kossof, with his “A Street in Willesden’ selling for £690, 850 – almost double its estimate. The top-selling piece at the Sotheby’s sale was Lucien Freud’s ‘Boy’s Head’ of 1952, which reached £3,177,250.

Phillips de Pury held two contemporary sales this week, bringing in a combined sale total of £11,882,813 and featuring works by Gerhard Richter, Ai Weiwei and Jeff Koons. Koons’s ‘Seal Walrus Trashcans’ was the highest-selling lot in Wednesday’s evening sale, comfortably reaching its £2 million estimate. Meanwhile, the top-selling piece in the day sale was George Condo’s ‘Ballet Gris’ of 1987 which sold for £265,250, well in excess of its £120,000 estimate.

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 14th October brought in a total of £38,070,350, far exceeding that of either of the other leading auction houses. The  top two highest-selling lots were both Gerhard Richter pieces: ‘Kerze’ of 1982, which was sold for £10,457,250 and ‘Abstraktes Bild’ of 1992 for £3,625,250. A life-size maquette of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North reached £3,401,250, exceeding its estimate of £2m.
All of this points to a growth in confidence in the contemporary art market which has been riddled with uncertainty since last Spring. Lets hope the art fairs also produce some positive results this season.

Words: Maddie Bates © ArtLyst 2011

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