New world auction records were set for eight artists last night in New York, as the Evening Sale of Post-war & Contemporary Art achieved $658,532,000 (£419,714,468 / €584,662,254, view full results). Bidders from 40 countries competed for works by the pioneering artists of the era, with the top lot of the sale being Mark Rothko’s No. 10, a mystical masterpiece executed in 1958 at the height of the artist’s powers, which sold for $81,925,000 (£52,214,786 / €72,735,198).
Results: World record for Mondrian / Records tumble in New York
The sale established 14 world auction records in all, with all-time highs set for Lucian Freud, Robert Rauschenberg, Hans Hofmann, Robert Ryman, Sturtevant, Giovanni Anselmo, Rudolf Stingel and Carroll Dunham. Three lots sold for over $50 million, eight works for over $20 million, 13 for over $10 million and 63 for over $1 million, with the sale producing sell-through rates of 88 per cent by lot and 94 per cent by value.
Mark Rothko (1903-1970), No. 10, 1958. Oil on canvas. Sold for $81,925,000.
‘The response that we saw to the sale this evening proves the sophistication, knowledge and competitive urge of many of our top buyers,’ said Brett Gorvy, International Head of Post-war & Contemporary Art at Christie’s. ‘They were pursuing not just great works but also great collections, and showed they were willing to stretch and stretch some more to have the best.’
The sale got off to a fast start with stellar works offered from the collection assembled by art world figures Ileana Sonnabend and her daughter Nina Castelli Sundell. Lot 1, Giovanni Anselmo’s Torsione, (1968), inspired a bidding war that pushed the sculpture from a pre-sale estimate of $600,000–800,000 to $6.4 million, far exceeding his previous record of $441,425.
All 19 works from the collection selected for the Evening Sale found buyers, with many reaching hammer prices well above estimate. The group totalled $60.1 million, more than twice the pre-sale estimate, and three artist records were set, including Robert Rauschenberg’s Johanson’s Painting (1961), which sold for $18,645,000, Jean Dubuffet’s Pleurnichon (1954), which sold for $1,205,000, setting a world record auction price for a sculpture by the artist, and Carroll Dunham’s Fourth Birch (1983), which realised $509,000.
Jussi Pylkkanen auctions Andy Warhol’s Colored Mona Lisa (1963), which realised $56,165,000 (£35,796,686/€49,864,783), the second highest price on the night. Read full feature.
Further high marks soon followed, as world auction records for works on paper by an artist were established first for Collage for Interior: Perfect Pitcher, 1994, by Roy Lichtenstein, which sold for $4,421,000, and soon afterwards by Untitled (1947) by Jackson Pollock, which realised $3,525,000.
The next milestone of the night came as Lucian Freud’s highly anticipated Benefits Supervisor Resting (1994), a masterful reworking of the traditional theme of the nude, was sold for the world auction record price for the artist of $56,165,000 (£35,796,686/€49,864,783). The price well exceeded its estimate as well as the previous artist’s auction record of $33.6 million, set at Christie’s London in 2008.
Lucian Freud (1922–2011), Benefits Supervisor Resting, 1994. Oil on canvas. Sold for: $56,165,000. Read full feature.
The other records on the night were set in the following order: Hans Hofmann’s Auxerre (1960) eclipsed its high estimate, achieving a new world auction record for the artist at $6,325,000; Robert Ryman’s Bridge (1980) more than doubled its low estimate by selling for $20,605,000, in excess of $5 million more than the previous record; a world auction record for a work on paper by the artist was established for Andy Warhol when One Dollar (1961) went for $5,317,000; Sturtevant’s Warhol Diptych (1973) was sold for $5,093,000; Triple Elvis (2009) by Jeff Koons set a world auction record for a painting by the artist, realising $8,565,000, over $5 million more than the previous high; Christopher Wool’s Untitled (1990), realised $2,405,000, almost $1 million higher than the previous record for a work on paper by the artist; and Rudolf Stingel’s Untitled (1993), surged past its high estimate to set a new world auction record for the artist at $4,757,000.
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