William Boyd’s Fictional Nat Tate Sells For £7000

Sotheby’s auctions for Modern and Post-War British Art make £8m, selling work by Lowry and the fictional creation Nat Tate

Sotheby’s held its first ever evening auction of Modern and Post-War British Art this week, and by all accounts this inaugural event was a success for the house, with the combined total from the evening and subsequent day sale coming to £8m.

Echoing the popularity of the artist seen at Christie’s earlier this week, it was Lowry’s  ‘Railway Platform’ of 1953 that took the top spot at the evening sale, fetching £1.1 million. However, it is also worth noting that another of his works, ‘Home From the Pub’, failed to even find a buyer despite having a pre-sale valuation of £400,000 to £600,000.

The evening sale was not only a first for Sotheby’s but for Nat Tate too; the auction marked the first ever public sale of a painting by the fictitious artist created by author William Boyd. ‘Bridge No.114’ drew fierce competition from bidders and eventually sold above estimate at £7,250. Boyd was present at the sale and described it as ‘a rather surreal – though thrilling – experience’. The profit brought by the painting will be donated to the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution. It was over 10 years ago in 1998 that Boyd revealed the elaborate ruse of Nat Tate to the art world, but this does not seem to have dampened buyers’ enthusiasm for his work.

But the biggest surprise of the two day event came during the day sale; a cast of Lawrence Holofcener’s life-size sculpture ‘The Allies’ – a depiction of Churchill and Roosevelt – sold for more than three times its pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £70,000 at £253,250 and set a new record for the artist.  Words Maddie Bates © 2011 ArtLyst

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