ARTnewsletter Archive

Contemporary Auctions Complement Bustling Fair Roster

Contemporary art auctions held March 7 were timed to coincide with the numerous art fairs that dotted New York city, yielding healthy results.

NEW YORK—Contemporary art auctions held March 7–9 were timed to coincide with the numerous art fairs that dotted New York city, yielding healthy results. Following Christie’s “First Open” sale (ANL, 3/13/12), which brought in $10.6 million, Sotheby’s sale brought in $12 million, while Phillips de Pury and Company realized $7.2 million, for a total of just under $30 million in three days.

Sotheby’s total on March 9 was ahead of the presale high estimate of $11.6 million, for 305 lots offered. Of these, 243, or 80 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 91 percent sold.

The sale was topped by Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #21, 1978, one of an edition of ten that was acquired from the artist from the family of the consignor. It sold for $746,500, far surpassing the $150,000/200,000 estimate.

An abstract painting by Gerhard Richter, Montag, 1983, offered from an unidentified corporate collection, sold for $548,500 to a US dealer, against an estimate of $250,000/350,000.

A maquette for Alexander Calder’s Wichita Mobile, ca. 1973, sold for $422,500 to a US dealer, compared with an estimate of $200,000/300,000. Most of the top works sold comfortably within or just above estimates.

Jennifer Roth, head of Sotheby’s fine arts department, noted that “works from across a wide range of styles and mediums performed well throughout the day, from photographs and Abstract Expressionist works, to pieces by California-based artists and Asian artists.”

Among other top–selling works, Suspended Shapes, 1949, by Hans Hoffmann, sold for $332,500, compared with an estimate of $200,000/300,000, and Robert Rauschenberg’s mixed media, Aquavitae (Arcadian Retreat), 1996, sold for $278,500, within the estimate of $250,000/350,000.

Keith Haring’s Untitled, 1986, a sculpture of three brightly painted, stacked figures, sold for $284,500, above the estimate of $180,000/220,000, while Edward Ruscha’s I Forgot to Remember to Forget, 1984, sold for $218,500, also higher than the $100,000/150,000 estimate.

On the other hand, George Condo’s Peripheral Beings, 2000, just inched by the low estimate, when it sold for $182,500 with premium, compared with an estimate of $180,000/220,000. It was bought by a US?dealer.

Phillips opened its two-sale series on March 8 with an auction titled “Under the Influence,” which brought $2.9 million, followed by a $4.3 million evening sale.

Among the highlights of the evening sale were two new artist records for Tauba Auerbach, whose Binary Lowercase, 2006, sold for $86,500, and for Garth Weiser, whose Double Circle #1, 2008, sold for $43,750, compared with an estimate of $15,000/20,000.

The top lot of the sale was a Cindy Sherman clown print, Untitled #426, 2004, which sold for $446,500, within the $300,000/500,000 estimate, followed by Anselm Kiefer’s mixed media work, Hommage à Omar Khayyám, 2002, which sold for $314,500, against an estimate of $300,000/500,000.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke Still Life with Lamp, 1997, sold for $302,500, barely falling within the estimate of $300,000/450,000. It also marked a considerable loss in value, given that the consignor had acquired it at Christie’s London in June 2006 for $490,032 (£265,500) against the then estimate of $276,750/369,000.

Dan Flavin’s fluorescent-light installation Untitled (To Pat and Bob Rohm), 1973, sold for $302,500, falling within the $250,000/350,000 estimate.

And Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s two-work neon-light installation, Puny Undernourished Kid and Girlfriend From Hell, 2004, sold for $242,500, albeit missing the estimate of $250,000/350,000.