The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Christie’s in London realized £78,817,050 / $125,792,012 / €87,959,828 and was 82% sold by lot (pre-sale estimate: £55,320,000 to £76,770,000). This is the second highest total for the category at Christie’s in London. The top lot was Study for a Portrait, 1953, by Francis Bacon which sold for £17,961,250 / $28,666,155 / €20,044,755 against an estimate in the region of £11 million.
19 lots sold for over £1 million (25 over $1 million). Buyers came from 16 different countries and the breakdown (by lot / by origin) was 59% Europe including UK, 26% Americas and 15% Asia. 5 artist records were set; for Juan Muñoz, Ron Mueck, Paula Rego, Domenico Gnoli and Miquel Barceló, who set a record for any living Spanish artist.
Francis Outred, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: “We saw global competition for works of great quality with a particular appetite for those sourced from private collections. We offered works representing 14 nationalities and attracted buyers from 16 countries; this diversity is breaking down boundaries and creating a competitive arena where collectors are being introduced to and bidding for works independent of their origin. We are extremely pleased to have established a world record price for a work of art by a living Spanish artist with Barceló’s sublime bullfight painting, particularly as this follows the success of the auction here in February when we established a world record price for a living French artist with Martial Raysse. British art was at the core of the auction – the Kay Saatchi collection kicked off the evening, far exceeding expectations and setting record prices for Ron Mueck and Paula Rego. This was followed by strong prices for Freud, Doig and of course Francis Bacon whose ‘Study for a Portrait’ attracted determined bidding and sold for £18 million, becoming the 2nd most valuable work to be sold at an auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in London.”
Highlights of the sale:
- Study for a Portrait, 1953, by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) sold for £17,961,250 / $28,666,155 / €20,044,755 – the second highest price for any work sold at a Post-War and Contemporary art auction at Christie’s in London. A masterpiece painted at a highly influential period of his career, it was offered at auction for the first time having been in the possession of the vendor since 1984. From 1951 to 1953 Bacon rented a studio at the Royal College of Art where he executed some of his most celebrated works including his definitive series of Popes and his first portrait triptych. This was the last work that he realized at this studio. Study for a Portrait was previously in the possession of Rodrigo Moynihan, a pioneer of abstract painting in the 1930’s and Louis Le Brocquy, one of Ireland’s most important painters of the 20th century and a great friend of Francis Bacon.
- Mao, 1973, by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) sold for £6,985,250 / $11,148,459 / €7,795,539. A brilliant large-scale portrait and one of the most powerful and enduring of all the artist’s images, this work had been exhibited at the artist’s landmark exhibition of Mao paintings at Musée Galliera in 1974.
- Red Boat (Imaginary Boys), 2003-04, by Peter Doig (b.1959) sold for £6,201,250 / $ 9,897,195 / €6,920,595. Arguably the finest painting made by the artist this century, it was estimated to realize £1.4 million to £1.8 million. It was bought by an anonymous bidder on the telephone.
- Woman Smiling, 1958-59, by Lucian Freud (b.1922) sold for £4,745,250 / $7,573,419 / €5,295,699. A landmark portrait described by esteemed art critic Robert Hughes as the turning point in the artist’s career, it is the only single portrait of Suzy Boyt, the woman who was to mother four of the artist’s children. Formerly in collection of Mrs. Ian Fleming, the wife of the author best known for creating the British spy James Bond, it was last sold at auction at Christie’s in 1973 when it realised £5,040.
- Faena de muleta, 1990, by Miquel Barceló (b.1957) sold for £3,961,250 / $6,322,155 / €4,420,755 – a world record price for the artist at auction and a record price for any living Spanish artist. By far the largest and most important example of the artist’s celebrated bullfight paintings ever to come to auction, it had been expected to realize £1.5 million to £2 million.
- Seven works from the collection of Kay Saatchi sold for a total of £3,992,750 / $6,372,429 / €4,455,909 (pre-sale estimate: £2.1 million to £2.8 million). The collection was led by Lucian Freud’s Rabbit on a Chair which drew multiple bids and realized £1,049,250 / $1,674,603 / €1,170,963 (estimate: £300,000 to £400,000). Ron Mueck’s (b.1958) larger than life sculpture Big Baby sold for £825,250 / $1,317,099 / €920,979 – a world record price for the artist. The collection also included Looking Back by Ron Mueck’s mother-in-law, Paula Rego (b.1935); it sold for £769,250 / $1,227,723 / €858,483 – a world record price for her work at auction.
The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction will take place on Wednesday 29 June 2011 and will offer 251 lots with a combined pre-sale estimate of £12,402,500 to £17,357,000.
Full results can be found at the following link: http://www.christies.com/results/
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