Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” sale in New York pulled in $28.3 million yesterday, with a solid 80 percent of lots finding buyers. The result was good enough to beat the presale estimate of $15.8 million to $22.7 million. The high numbers were due in part to a set of acclaimed Vija Celmins works, including the famous painting Burning Plane, from 1965, which sold for $3.41 million, more than doubling the high estimate of $1.2 million. This price raises Celmins’s previous record ($2.41 million in 2013 for the 1996/97 painting Night Sky #14) by a million dollars. In the past few years, the majority of Celmins’s work to go under auction have significantly beaten their estimates.
Other big results from the sale included an untitled work by Keith Haring from 1988 for $2.74 million, one of the highest prices ever paid at auction for his work; the John Baldessari work 18th and Highland, National City, which went for $509,000 (having been estimated at between $180,000 and $250,000); and Philip Guston’s Magician’s Table, which fetched $653,000.