New world auction records were set for 10 works of art during Christie’s innovative Evening Sale Looking Forward to the Past, including the world auction record for any work of art with Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger, Version O from 1955, which sold for $179,365,000* (£116,395,198/€160,276,188). The previous record for any work of art sold at auction was $142.4 million, also at Christie’s New York, set in 2013 for Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud.
Results: Rothko leads the way in New York / World record for Mondrian
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955. Oil on canvas. 44 7/8 x 57 5/8 in. (114 x 146.4 cm.) © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2015
Bidding for the Picasso masterpiece went on for over 11 minutes before selling to a client on the phone with Brett Gorvy, International Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art. The sale marks the second time that Christie’s has sold this particular Picasso painting; in 1997, it was offered from the celebrated Ganz collection and sold for $31.9 million against an estimate of $10-12 million. The previous world auction record for a work by Picasso was $106,482,496 for Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932), at Christie’s New York in May 2010.
Later in the sale, Giacometti’s L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man) conceived in 1947 achieved $141,285,000 (£91,683,971/ €126,248,829), setting a new record for any sculpture sold at auction, bettering the previous mark, set in 2010, by almost $37 million.
Of the 35 works offered in New York, two sold for over $100 million, three sold for over $50 million, nine for over $20 million, 12 for over $10 million, and 29 lots were sold at over $1 million. Looking Forward to the Past achieved $705,858,000 (£458,051,914/ €630,737,486), with sell-through rates of 97 per cent by lot and 99 per cent by value. Full results can be viewed here.
Minutes after the Picasso broke the world auction record another work by the artist, his 1938 painting Buste de Femme (Femme a la Resille), achieved the third highest price on the night, selling for $67,375,000. Mark Rothko’s No.36 (Black Stripe) from 1958, sold for the fourth highest total, realising $40,485,000.
All of the works offered in Looking Forward to the Past were selected for their connection to a central theme of artistic innovation inspired by the past. ‘From the moment that we announced the sale, global collectors embraced the concept and were prepared to consign masterpieces to the auction,’ noted Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s. ‘Over 70 per cent of the works included in the sale have been shown in major museum exhibitions and the works themselves spanned over 100 years of Modernism, beginning with Monet’s Le Parlement of 1901 to Urs Fischer’s wax figure of Rudolf Stingel of 2011.’
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943), Le Bœuf, circa 1923. Oil on canvas. 31 7/8 x 23 5/8 in. (81 x 60cm.) Achieved a record price for the artist at auction: $28,165,000
Eight other artist records were established on the night: Le Boeuf (circa 1923), which realized $28,165,000, more than $10 million higher than the previous record, also set at Christie’s, in 2013; Peter Doig’s Swamped which realized $25,925,000; Paris Polka by Jean Dubuffet (1961), which sold for $24,805,000; Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982), sold for $13,605,000, a new auction record for a work on paper by the artist; Bluewald (1989) by Candy Noland, which realized $9,797,000, more than $3.2 million higher than the previous record for the artist; L’empire Des Lumières (1955) by René Magritte, which realized $5,429,000, almost $1.5 million above its high estimate and a new world auction record for a work on paper by the artist; Robert Delaunay’s La Tour simultanée, executed in 1910-11, which sold for $2,405,000 (a world auction record for a work on paper by the artist); and a Gelatin silver print by Diane Arbus, Child With A Toy Hand Grenade In Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962, (1962), which realized $785,000.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, third party financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.
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