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Swann Art Sale Reflects Growing Collector Confidence

An Andy Warhol color screenprint with diamond dust, Howdy Doody, 1981, was the top lot at Swann Galleries’ sale of American and contemporary art on Nov. 20, selling for $25,200 with premium, at the bottom end of the $25,000/35,000 estimate.

NEW YORK—An Andy Warhol color screenprint with diamond dust, Howdy Doody, 1981, was the top lot at Swann Galleries’ sale of American and contemporary art on Nov. 20, selling for $25,200 with premium, at the bottom end of the $25,000/35,000 estimate. The sale was an up-and-down affair, with 246, or 69 percent, of the 357 lots finding buyers, for an overall total of $752,616, short of the $775,100/1.2million estimate.

Other Warhols in the sale also did well, including Gold Book, 1957, a bound volume containing 19 offset lithographs, which sold for $20,400 (estimate: $1,000/1,500); Geronimo, 1986, a color screenprint, which sold for $19,200 (estimate: $10,000/15,000); Flowers, 1964, an offset color lithograph, which sold for $14,400 (estimate: $10,000/15,000); Mother and Child, 1986, a color screenprint, which sold for $14,400 (estimate: $7,000/10,000); Northwest Coast Mask, 1986, a color screenprint, which sold for $11,400 (estimate: $6,000/9,000); Plains Indian Shield, 1986, a color screenprint, which brought $7,800 (estimate: $6,000/9,000); and Cow, 1976, a color screenprint, which sold for $6,720 (estimate: $7,000/10,000).

Fellow Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein was also represented by several works, of which the color screenprint Brushstrokes, 1967, was the top seller, bringing $20,400 against a $10,000/15,000 estimate. Robert Motherwell’s color aquatint Gesture III, 1976–77, sold for $13,200 (estimate: $10,000/15,000); a group of four illustrated books by Richard Prince, 1980, fetched $14,400 (estimate: $3,000/5,000); and David Hockney’s lithograph Celia Pondering, 1980, sold for $10,200 (estimate: $3,000/5,000). Even more notably exceeding its estimates, Hockney’s color etching The Start of the Spending Spree, 1963, sold for $9,000 on a $1,000/1,500 estimate.

Two 1919 charcoal-on-paper studies for the painting American Synchromy by Stanton McDonald-Wright, estimated at $1,500/2,500 each, sold for $12,000 and $14,400. Two portraits by Frederick Remington—one in pencil and the other in pen and ink—also drew prices far higher than expected: $14,400 on a $3,000/5,000 estimate for the pencil sketch and $9,600 on a $3,000/5,000 estimate for the ink drawing, of a Native American.

The results, especially for those lots that exceeded estimates, showed that “people are flocking back to the market with confidence in the growing economy,” Swann president Nicholas Lowry said. The top-valued lot, however—Richard Hamilton’s etching Picasso’s Meninas, 1973—was passed over on a $30,000/50,000 estimate.

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