Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale Realises Respectable £62.3m Total

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale has realised a very respectable £62.3 million / $79.8 million / €70.4 million total. Contemporary Art Sales at Sotheby’s worldwide has been up 30% year-on-year.  The sale was above high estimate with an Increase of 20% (GBP) / 15% (USD) on Last Year’s Sale 95.1% sold by lot / 39 of 41 lots sold

 Basquiat and Warhol shows no signs of slowing after the artists dominated the Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London

A 1983 Basquiat triptych on wood was the star lot in the sale realising £6.5 million ($8.3 million). It was battled out by New York dealer, Christophe van de Weghe and Paris collector, John Sayegh Belchatowski but it sold on the phone.

Guarantees made by Sotheby’s helped strengthen bids with the sale realising a total of £62.4 million ($79.9 million) at the contemporary art sale this evening.  The sale was up 20 percent from last year but below the £130 million totals of June 2012 and 2015.

At A Glance 

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale: 95.1% sold by lot, this was the fifth consecutive Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s worldwide with a sell-through rate of over 90%, An auction record was achieved for British artist Cecily Brown – for the second time this year, 50% of lots sold for prices above their pre-sale high estimates, 70% of the works had never previously been offered at auction. The pre-sale estimates for the sale were £44.3-60.6m / $56.7-77.6m / €50-68.5m. Tonight’s total brings combined sales of Contemporary Art so far this season – including the 11 contemporary works sold in last week’s ‘Actual Size’ sale – to £68,751,000 / $87,884,791.*


Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale: This evening’s sale was led by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untitled work from 1983. Conceived in the style of a classical frieze, the triptych sold for an over-estimate £6,492,500 / $8,311,049 / €7,333,947 (est. £4-6 million). Never before offered at auction, the painting had been in the same collection for 20 years. This followed a string of strong prices for Basquiat at Sotheby’s London. In the past twelve months, all but one of the paintings offered by the artist have achieved prices above their high estimates.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1963-64. Sold for £6,008,750.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1963-64. Sold for £6,008,750.

Andy Warhol’s Self-Portrait, 1963-64, brought the second highest price of the evening, selling for £6,008,750 / $7,691,801 / €6,787,502 (est. £5-7 million). From Warhol’s very first sequence of self-portraits, created using images from a photo booth, this work is effectively the artist’s first-ever selfie. It appeared at auction for the very first time tonight, 30 years on from the artist’s death in 1987. Artworks from this period typically attract the strongest prices for Warhol at auction, with eight of the top ten auction prices for the artist coming from the years 1962-4.

Two joint collaborative works by Warhol and Basquiat, from the collection of Tommy Hilfiger, both soared over-estimate. Sweet Pungent, 1984-85, sold for £4,433,750 / $5,675,643 / € 5,008,377 (est. £1.4-1.8 million) and New Flame, 1985, sold for £2,408,750 / $3,083,441 / € 2,720,931 (est. £1.7-2.2 million). Although teaming up with the legendary Warhol was certainly a coup for the 23-year-old Basquiat, the reciprocity of the collaboration should not be underestimated. Basquiat reinvigorated Warhol, who was inspired to paint by hand for the first time in 20 years.

Other strong prices for American artists included Roy Lichtenstein’s Picasso-inspired Two Paintings with Dado, 1983, that sold for an above estimate £3,308,750 / $4,235,531 / €3,737,574 (est. £2.4-3 million) and Richard Prince’s School Nurse, 2005, that also sold above estimate for £4,096,250 / $5,243,610 / €4,627,136 (est. £3.5- 4.5 million).

Another important result for British art was set by Cecily Brown’s The Girl Who Had Everything. This monumental work set a new auction record for the artist at £1,868,750 / $2,392,187 / €2,110,946 (est. £800,000 -1.2 million), superseding the record set in London just earlier this year.

Bidding Stats 

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Lot 29: Wolfgang Tillmans, Freischwimmer #81, 9 bidders

Lot 39: Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 8 bidders

Lot 7: Jean Dubuffet, Béret Rose, 5 bidders

Lot 13: Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sweet Pungent, 5 bidders

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