On 13 October 2014 Christie’s kicked off Frieze Week with the single owner evening auction of 43 works from the Essl Collection, one of the most important private collections of Post-War and Contemporary Art in Europe. The selection of works by German masters Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz and Martin Kippenberger as well as major works by international artists such as Cindy Sherman, Frank Stella, Louise Bourgeois and Morris Louis sold 91% by lot and totaled £46,861,500 / $75,306,431 / €59,420,382, establishing this carefully curated selection from the Essl Museum’s holdings of 7,000 works as the most successful single owner sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art ever held at Christie’s in London.
Led by five major works by Sigmar Polke, arguably the greatest grouping of Polke works ever offered at auction, which realized £16,252,500 / € 20,608,170 / $26,117,770 (see single sold prices below), tonight’s sale saw strong bidding from international buyers resulting in half of the lots (49% / 21 lots) selling above estimate, many for double or even five times of their pre-sale estimate – like Aggregate (2004) by Anthony Gormley which sold for £1,258,500 / $2,022,410 / €1,595,778 against an estimate of £150,000-200,000. Also the works by the two Austrian artists, Maria Lassnig and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, which Karlheinz Essl expressly included in the sale selection as typifying his core collection, sold for prices above estimate: Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s Der 7. Bezirk / The 7th District (1966) selling for £266,500 / $428,266 against a pre-sale estimate of £150,000-200,000 and Maria Lassnig’s Zwei Maler, drei Leinwände / Two Painters, Three Canvases (1986) selling for £182,500 / $293,278 / €231,410, achieving the 2nd highest price for the artist at auction. Auction records were set for Bernd & Hilla Becher (Fördertürme England / English Mineheads, sold for £242,500 / $389,698 / €307,490) and a sculpture by Georg Baselitz (Meine neue Mütze / My New Hat, 2003, sold for £1,426,500 / $2,292,386 / €1,808,802).
“Christie’s is delighted to secure the future of the Essl Museum with a very tightly curated selection of masterpieces of Post-War German Art, married with their American counterparts. In true museological fashion, they charted the evolution of art history since WW II. In a month of retrospectives of Anselm Kiefer and Sigmar Polke in London, it was great to see outstanding prices achieved for Polke and Baselitz, which confirmed the growing market confidence in German Post-War art” commented Francis Outred, Chairman & Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Christies EMERI.
Christie’s series of sales during Frieze week continues with the evening auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art on 16 October 2014 at King Street.