Sotheby’s Frieze Week Auction Proves London Remains Centre Of Art Market

Sotheby’s Frieze Week auction peaked with two lots selling for over £10m, a record result for an October contemporary auction in London. Alex Branczik, European Head of Contemporary Art said, “It’s clear that London remains at the heart of the global art market.” 

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Hannibal” became the most valuable work sold at auction in the capital this week, when seven bidders drove the canvas to £10.6m / $13.1m / €11.7m, double the pre-sale estimate (est. £3.5-4.5m). The painting dates from 1982, the artist’s breakthrough year. Two further works by Basquiat, from the collection of David Bowie, will be offered in Sotheby’s London “Bowie/Collector” sale on 10 November.

Gerhard Richter’s “Garten” also sold for over £10m. The 1982 abstract painting sold for £10.2m / $12.7m / €11.3m (est. £3-4m), almost tripling its estimate. The work had been held in the same collection since 1987.

Two other works by the artist from the same collection also soared overestimate: a small early “Abstraktes Bild” realised £2.8m / $3.5m / €3.1m, doubling the pre-sale estimate of £1-1.5m; and “Säulen”, from 1968, totaled £3m / $3.7m / €3.3m (est. £1.8-2.5m). Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in New York in November will include two major works by the artist, both estimated at $20-30m, from the collection of Stephen and Anne Ames.

Alex Branczik, European Head of Contemporary Art said, “It’s clear that London remains at the heart of the global art market.” 

In a night that saw strong results for German artists, the Contemporary sale opened with a new record for Michael Krebber, the one-time studio assistant to Georg Baselitz. His his “Untitled” painting from 1997 soared to £191,000 / $237,318 / €211,398 (est. £70,000-90,000).

Last sold at auction in 2011 for £894,130, Peter Doig’s “Grasshopper” doubled its estimate to make £5.9m / $7.3m / €6.5m (est. £2.8-3.5m). The work was executed in 1990, during Doig’s one-year Master’s degree at Chelsea School of Art, a period in which he created some of his most career-defining paintings.

• Sale Total: £47,953,000 / $59,581,603 / €53,074,178

• Pre-sale estimate: £23.5-31.9m / $29.2-39.7m / €26-35.3m (34 lots offered)

• 91.2% sold by lot – the highest sell-through rate for any Contemporary Sale at Sotheby’s London since 2011. Only three works unsold.

• Participants from 44 countries, a 20% increase on last year


A new auction record was set for the American-Italian artist Salvatore Scarpitta. “Forager for Plankton” was first exhibited in the artist’s breakthrough show the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1959, the year it was painted. This evening, the painting sold for £2.2m / $2.7m / €2.4m (est. £1-1.5m), more than double the previous record for the artist (£856,550 / $1,445,000).

Alberto Burri’s blood-red “Rosso Plastica 5”, one of the finest examples from the artist’s Plastiche series was acquired by collector Dimitri Mavrommatis for £4.7m / $5.8m / €5.2m (est. £4-6m). This follows the £9.1m record for the artist set at Sotheby’s earlier this year by Sacco e Rosso, 1959.

Other auction records were set for: Franco Angeli when four bidders drove “Tunisia” to £100,000 / $185,132 / €110,680 (est. £40,000-60,000); for Nuvolo when his “Untitled” work sold for £56,250 / $69,891 / €62,257 (est. £35,000-45,000); and for Fabio Mauri when his 1972 canvas realised £125,000 / $155,312 / €138,349 (est. £80,000-120,000).

Sale Total: £23,298,500 / 28,948,386 / €25,786,681

Pre-sale estimate: £19.7-27.9m / $24.4-34.7m / €21.8-30.9m (46 lots offered) 84.8 % sold by lot

New records in sterling were established for: a painting by Marino Marini when “Grande Teatro” sold for £989,000 / $1.2m / €1.1m (est. £600,000-800,000), and for Gunther Förg a work from his Lead Paintings series realised £629,000 / $781,532 / €696,175 (est. £400,000-600,000).

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