Strong results at 20th Century Week in New York

Twenty world auction records set as tightly edited sales produce deep bidding and excellent sell-through rates

Christie’s 20th Century Week in New York finished strongly, achieving $657,754,563 (£456,026,198 / €576,377,849) and confirming Christie’s market leadership of the major spring auctions.

The total includes Christie’s Evening, Day, and Works on Paper sales in Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary art, as well as the curated capsule sale Bound To Fail and a companion online-only sale of contemporary art.

Strong sell-through rates were consistent throughout the sales, with an average of 90 per cent across the three major Evening Sales, while the Impressionist & Modern Art Works on Paper sale was 93 per cent sold by lot and 92 per cent sold by value — the most successful result for the category in recent years.

Collector demand at the top end of the market was underscored by record prices across the week, and successful results for each of the top three lots in each Evening Sale. In total, 20 artist records were achieved for a varied selection of modern and contemporary artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo, Richard Prince, Agnes Martin, Mike Kelley, Kerry James Marshall and Maurizio Cattelan, among others.

There was also significant demand for work by artists in mediums other than painting, including record prices for a video work by Bruce Nauman, a work on paper by Amedeo Modigliani, and a sculpture by Richard Prince.

‘In constructing each of this week’s auctions, we carefully considered the collecting tastes of our clients while ensuring that we were continuing to push boundaries’

In total, 771 works were sold, with 121 realizing over $1 million. There was ample bidding and buying throughout the series from American and European buyers, and significant participation from Asian bidders across both sale categories.

Most notable was Japanese collector Mr. Yusaku Maezawa, who acquired five contemporary works at Christie’s for a total of $81.3 million, and became the winning bidder of the week’s top lot, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled, and set a new auction record for Richard Prince with his purchase of Runaway Nurse for $9.7 million. Mr. Maezawa, founder of the Contemporary Art Foundation, will exhibit Basquiat’s 16-foot wide tour-de-force to the public at the Foundation’s site in Tokyo later this year.

‘Success in this current market requires adaptability, innovation and client focus,’ commented Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s. ‘These are the elements that defined our sales strategy this season, and we were able to navigate a tougher macro-economic climate effectively, delivering very strong results for our consignors. In constructing each of the week’s auctions, we carefully considered the collecting tastes of our clients while ensuring that we were continuing to push boundaries. The enthusiasm with which these sales were received was an energizing message of confidence for the marketplace.’


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