The November 2014 auctions of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York achieved a combined total of $964,806,000. Bidders from over 50 countries competed in the two-day sale series for an exceptional array of Abstract Expressionist, Pop and Contemporary works, propelling prices well above expectations and setting world auction records for artists including Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Martin Kippenberger, Willem de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman. The Evening Sale on November 12 totaled $852,887,000 – the highest total for any auction in history – and achieved sell-through rates of 97% by value and 94% by lot. These unprecedented results signal the global enthusiasm for Post-War and Contemporary art, as well as the confidence of both buyers and sellers to participate in this dynamic marketplace.
Eleven new world auction records were set including for Cy Twombly, and Ed Ruscha and 4 auction records were set for artists by medium.
Christie’s dominated the week with an outstanding selection of premiere works by the leading Pop artists. Andy Warhol was the star of the week, with his highly anticipated Triple Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963 and Four Marlons, 1966 realizing $81,925,000 and $69,605,000, respectively, after fierce competition between bidders on the phones and in the crowded saleroom. Christie’s sold 27 works by Warhol last week, which achieved an impressive $213,559,000 overall. A selection of 14 works by Roy Lichtenstein achieved $78.8 million, while five works by Ed Ruscha – including Smash ($30.4 million, estimate $15-20 million) generated enthusiastic bidding and sold for a combined total of $34.7 million.
The Evening and Day sales featured a range of superlative works from distinguished private collections and institutions. Works from the Cy Twombly Foundation, acquired by the artist in the 1960s, included a selection of works by Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman and Andy Warhol that achieved $18,327,250. Works by Joseph Cornell from the Bergman Collection achieved $8,057,874 overall and were led by Aviary [Cockatoo and Watches], circa 1948 which realized $4,757,000, while an exceptional selection of works on paper from the Collection of Frances R. Dittmer achieved $7.8 million.
The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sales totaled $112 million.
“This was a sale of extraordinary quality and range, with every major artist represented by at least one masterwork,” said Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art. “The landmark sale result achieved tonight is a reflection of both growing global enthusiasm and demand in this category and a virtuous cycle of confidence in the art market that brings a fresh supply of exciting, high-quality works into the market with each new season.”
Steven Murphy, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer stated: “This is truly a moment in art history. Tonight’s result is a testimony to the depth of interest in art across the globe, and to the talent of the Christie’s team. This sale may have produced an eye catching number, but record museum attendance and record art sales at Christie’s on every continent in all areas and price levels proves that enjoying works of art has become a universal pursuit in our time.”