London sales of Post-War and Contemporary Art set 19 artist auction records, confirming market strength
Auctions held at Christie’s during London’s Frieze Week totalled £91,092,925 / $115,611,199 / €103,296,512, establishing 19 artist auction records and attracting registered bidders from 53 countries. Celebrating the very best in Post-War and Contemporary Art, the sales confirmed the strength of the global art market.
The week began with The Leslie Waddington Collection, which achieved exceptional results, selling 100 per cent by lot and value. The evening was a fitting tribute to one of London’s most celebrated dealers, with 80 per cent of lots selling over estimate, and bidders registered from 37 countries across six continents.
Of the works presented, over 90 per cent were new to market, including pieces by Josef Albers, Milton Avery, Alexander Calder and Agnes Martin — a factor that contributed to the atmosphere in the saleroom. The auction was led by Jean Dubuffet’s Visiteur au Chapeau Bleu (Visitor with a Blue Hat), which exceeded its high estimate, selling for £4,813,000. The work was one a group of seven by the artist, which totalled £6,708,000.
World records at auction were set for Michael Craig-Martin, whose painting Las Meninas I realised £149,000, and Amedée Ozenfant, whose Verrerie sold for £557,000. Records in the medium were set for Francis Picabia’s rare work on paper Lampe, which doubled its high estimate to find a buyer at £3,637,000, while Patrick Caulfield’s work on paper Les Demoiselles d’Avignon Vues de Derrière sold for £233,000.
On 6 October, the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction saw extraordinary results for artists including Adrian Ghenie, whose vast, cinematic painting Nickelodeon sold for a record-breaking £7,109,000. With 90 per cent sold by lot and 96 per cent sold by value, the auction confirmed Christie’s ability to read the continuing evolution of the global market, achieving top prices for young talent, celebrated mid-career artists and established post-war masters alike.
Momentum was established early in the sale, when Lucy McKenzie’s painting Olga Korbut sold for £317,000 — a figure almost 11 times more than its initial estimate. Six of the first 10 works presented during the evening established auction records for artists including Henry Taylor, Imi Knoebel, Albert Oehlen and Gerald Laing.
With 90 per cent sold by lot and 96 per cent sold by value, the evening auction confirmed Christie’s ability to read the continuing evolution of the global market
Additional highlights included Thomas Schütte’s Bronzefrau nr.13, from the artist’s iconic series of 18 Frauen (Women), which tripled its estimate to realise £3,749,000. Anselm Kiefer’s Grab des unbekannten Malers (Tomb of the Unknown Painter), a major painting from his landmark series on the theme of the ‘Unknown Painter’, sold for £2,405,000. Strong results were also seen for Jean Dubuffet’s La Vie Agreste (The Rural Life), which realised £2,629,000.
On the same evening The Italian Sale totalled £18,680,250 / $23,723,918 / €21,164,723, establishing seven artist auction records, and demonstrating continued global interest in Italian artists, covering movements from Spatialism to Arte Povera. A highlight was Pino Pascali’s Coda di Delfino (Tail of a Dolphin), which sold for £2,629,000, setting a new world auction record for the artist.
Further records were set for artists Giosetta Fioroni, whose work La Modella Inglese (The English Model) sold for £56,250 and Carol Rama’s Presagi di Birnam (Birnam’s Premonition), sold for £179,000. Works by artists new to auction were no less successful: world auction records were also set for pieces by Gianfranco Baruchello (£68,750) and Ettore Spalletti (£125,000).
Finally, the 7 October Post-War and Contemporary Day Auction totalled £9,861,150 / $12,277,131 / €11,034,627, with sell-through rates of 81 per cent by lot and 88 per cent by value. Records were set for some of the most sought-after names in contemporary art today: Grayson Perry’s 2001 work I Was an Angry Working-Class Man sold for £87,500, while Phyllida Barlow’s Untitled: Riff, 101 sold for £25,000. Merthe Wery’s Untitled soared above its estimate of £4,000-6,000, finding a buyer at £32,500.
An online component of the Abso-bloody-lutely! section continues until 13 October.