Lichtenstein fetches $46,242,500 as historic ONE sale tops $420m — setting seven artist records

The first auction of its kind — relayed in sequence from Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York — totals $420,941,042 / £334,877,520 / €373,053,557 / HK$3,246,637,554 and sets auction records for Marden, Thiebaud, Condo and more

On 10 July, Christie’s made auction history with ONE, a global live auction offering Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art and Design

Using streaming technology, ONE  took place in consecutive sessions in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, and realised $420,941,042 / £334,877,520 / €373,053,557 / HK$3,246,637,554, selling 94 per cent by lot and 97 per cent by value. 

The event welcomed global participation via Christie’s LIVE online bidding channel and, where regional government advice allowed, clients and phone bidders in the salerooms. More than 80,000 people tuned in to watch ‘the new theatre’ unfold, with 60,000 of those accessing the auction through social media in Asia.

 ‘This hybrid-format concept sale is a way to adapt and innovate,’ commented Christie’s chief executive officer, Guillaume Cerutti. ‘We wanted to stage something that accommodates the current situation and serves our clients, wherever they are and however they wish to participate.’

The top price in the ONE  sale was achieved by Nude with Joyous Painting (1994), a late-career tour de force by Roy Lichtenstein, which realised $46,242,500. Painted in Lichtenstein’s signature ‘Ben-Day’ dot style, the landmark canvas features a blonde American beauty alone in her bedroom, wearing nothing but a blue headband and red lipstick. 

Ana Maria Celis, head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, described the iconic work as ‘the most important example of Lichtenstein’s last great series of nudes to have ever appeared at auction’. 

Brice Marden (b. 1938), Complements,  2004-2007. Oil on canvas, in two parts. Each canvas: 72 x 48 in (182.9 x 121.9 cm). Sold for $30,920,000 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in New York. © 2020 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The second-top seller was Barnett Newman’s Onement V  from 1952 — one of six paintings in the breakthrough series that marked the moment the Colour Field artist came of age. The painting realised $30,920,000. 

Brice Marden’s Complements  diptych, above, painted between 2004 and 2007 and exhibited at New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery in 2007, also sold for $30,920,000, establishing a new world record for the artist at auction. With its orange and blue rectangles traversed by a wiry collection of snaking coils, it is a standout example of the artist’s late, vibrant gestural style.

Hong Kong

Presided over by Elaine Kwok, the first leg of this international relay established two world auction records and saw active bidding in the Christie’s salesrooms in Hong Kong, Paris and New York, as well as via Christie’s LIVE.

The top lot was Gerhard Richter’s Frost (1) (1989), which sold for HK$79,255,000. A dazzling example of Richter’s Abstraktes Bild  paintings, it exemplifies the artist’s practice of continually laying down and then subsequently scraping off layers of paint with a squeegee, resulting in a fractured surface.

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), Frost (1), 1989. Oil on canvas. 55⅛ x 39⅜ in (140 x 100 cm). Sold for HK$79,255,000 on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in Hong Kong. © Gerhard Richter 2020

The Hong Kong section also saw strong results for George Condo’s Force Field  from 2010, which achieved HK$53,150,000; and Yellow Quadrangle (1959) by the avant-garde Japanese painter Takeo Yamaguchi, which sold for HK$15,125,000. Both were record prices for the artists at auction, with the Yamaguchi, the largest work by the artist ever to come auction, selling for more than five times the high estimate.

Takeo Yamaguchi (1902-1983), Yellow Quadrangle, 1959. Oil on board. 72 x 72 in (183 x 183 cm). Sold for HK$15,125,000 on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in Hong Kong. © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Other notable results included Martin Wong’s 1990 Untitled (Statue of Liberty), which realised HK$4,925,000 — nearly double the high estimate; and Homecoming  by the self-taught Canadian artist Matthew Wong, which soared above its high estimate to fetch HK$3,000,000.

 Yayoi Kusama’s 1981 Pumpkin, meanwhile, realised HK$14,525,000; and Nicholas Party’s captivating large-scale Still Life  in pastel achieved HK$7,925,000.

Paris

Following a swift transition, the Paris section got underway with Cécile Verdier at the rostrum. The top lot was Jean Dubuffet’s Pourlèche fiston (1963), which fetched €6,528,500. Held in the same family collection for half a century, the painting represents the kaleidoscopic fusion of two worlds: the transformation of Dubuffet’s celebrated ‘Paris Circus’ series into his career-defining cycle, ‘Hourloupe’.

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), Pourlèche fiston, 1963. Oil on canvas. 45 x 57⅝ in (114.3 x 146.5 cm). Sold for €6,528,500 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in Paris. © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The second-highest seller of the Paris leg was Amedeo Modigliani’s 1909 portrait of Maurice Drouard, below, which fetched €4,485,500, while Nicolas de Staël’s Plage à Agrigente  sold for €4,031,500. An exquisite work from the artist’s series inspired by Sicily, it was painted from memory in the South of France in 1953, and unveiled in the artist’s landmark debut at Paul Rosenberg’s New York gallery shortly afterwards.

Other highlights included Pierre Soulages’ Peinture 130 x 89 cm, 25 novembre 1950, which realised €3,237,000. This dynamic oil on canvas had not been seen in public since 1953, when it toured to Australia for the exhibition French Painting Today

London

In London, Jussi Pylkkänen was at the podium. Leading the auction was René Magritte’s monumental L’Arc de Triomphe, one of only a handful of Magritte paintings on such a scale that is still in private hands. Painted during the opening months of 1962, it features one of the most iconic motifs of Magritte’s post-war oeuvre: the tree. It sold for £17,798,750.

René Magritte (1898-1967), L'Arc de Triomphe, 1962. Oil on canvas. 51⅜ x 63¾ in (130.6 x 162 cm). Sold for £17,798,750 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in London. © 2020 C. Herscovici, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

There were other notable successes, too. Cecily Brown’s Carnival and Lent  (2006-2008) went for £4,859,750, while Gebeugter Trinker [Bent Drinker]  by Georg Baselitz realised £4,600,000. After an international bidding battle, David Hockney’s 1988 Jade Plant  sold for £4,178,750, nearly triple the low estimate.

Manolo Millares (1926-1972), Cuadro 54, 1959. Oil and string on burlap. 59 x 78¾ in (150 x 200 cm). Sold for £1,091,250 on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in London. © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

And Manolo Millares’ Cuatro 54 — a large-scale example of the artist’s extraordinary burlap creations, executed in 1959 and widely exhibited — realised £1,091,250, setting a new world record for the artist at auction.

New York

Led by Adrien Meyer, the fourth and final leg took the sale total to $420,941,042. In addition to the works by Lichtenstein, Newman and Marden (see above), other notable results included Picasso’s monumental Les Femmes d’Alger (Version F), one of a series of 15 canvases based on Eugène Delacroix’s masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, which achieved $29,217,500. 

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F'), 1955. Oil on canvas. 21⅜ x 25⅝ in (54.2 x 65 cm). Sold for $29,217,500 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in New York. © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Picasso created the series in a burst of activity between December 1954 and February 1955, assigning each work an identifying letter, from ‘A’ to ‘O’. What makes Version ‘F’ stand out is the way it marks a bridge between the first phase of the series (of regular-sized canvases) and the second, final phase (featuring much larger works). More than any other painting in the series, it also conveys the hothouse atmosphere of a harem.

The Picasso was followed by Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking early text painting Annie (1962), which fetched $22,975,000, while Four Pinball Machines, one of the largest canvases from Wayne Thiebaud’s early period, sold for $19,135,000, setting a new world record for the artist at auction. 

Painted in 1962, it depicts a row of arcade machines, decorated in a vibrant mix of oranges and yellows. ‘Thiebaud is one of the most underrated and overlooked painters of recent times,’ said Stephen Jones, associate vice president of Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s. ‘It’s only as we approach his 100th birthday that the world is really waking up to that.’ 

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), Four Pinball Machines, 1962. Oil on canvas. 68 x 72 in (172.7 x 182.8 cm). Sold for $20,137,500 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in New York. © 2020 Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

The New York leg also saw competitive bidding for Frank Stella’s Sharpeville  from 1962, which realised $11,625,000; Georgia O’Keeffe’s From Pink Shell, which sold for $5,098,750, and two further Picasso works. Baigneuses, sirènes, femme nue et minotaure  from 1937 sold for $8,106,500, while Baigneuses au ballon (1928) achieved $4,575,000, more than double the high estimate.

Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), Untitled (S.401, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Continuous Interlocking Form, with Spheres within Two Lobes), circa 1953-1954. Hanging sculpture — enamelled copper and brass wire. 78 x 15 x 15 in (198.1 x 38.1 x 38.1 cm). Sold for $5,382,500 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in New York.© The Estate of Ruth Asawa / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Other strong performers included Ruth Asawa’s Untitled (S.401, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Continuous Interlocking Form, with Spheres within Two Lobes), which realised $5,382,500 — a record price for the artist at auction. Towards the end of the sale, after a flurry of international bidding, Richard Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants  fetched $1,815,000 — an auction record for Avedon.

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