Christie’s New York’s First Open sale of postwar and contemporary art took place at the auction house’s Rockefeller Center headquarters today. Sales were brisk, with 239 of the 297 lots finding buyers. The sale totaled $12.4 million including buyer’s premium, setting a record for First Open sales. The sale raised over $830,000 for Artists Space and just over $500,000 for the Brooklyn Museum.
The works on offer were by artists ranging from giants like Gerhard Richter and Cindy Sherman to rising stars like Oscar Tuazon and Byron Kim. With a huge span of prices–presale estimates on individual works stretched from $1,000 to $500,000–the sale attracted both seasoned and budding collectors.
Despite a snowstorm and a 9 A.M. start time, Christie’s mezzanine sales room was filled. Many buyers from overseas were in attendance, likely because First Open coincides with the multiple fairs of Armory Arts Week in New York. The marathon sale extended for six hours; A.i.A. attended the first two and half hours.
Selling for $782,500, an untitled Richter oil on paper from 1986 was the priciest work of the day. Bids opened at $180,000 and volleyed upward for a minute and a half before an anonymous U.S. phone buyer acquired the work for more than double its presale high estimate of $350,000.
Coburg 3+1 more (1995), an atmospheric snow scene in oil on paper by Peter Doig, was another top lot, bringing $626,500. Amidst tremendous buzz on the sales room floor, bidding surged from $170,000 to its close in just over one minute, trumping the work’s $300,000 high estimate.
Results were also favorable for younger artists like Kehinde Wiley, whose portrait Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro Study II (2012) sold for $35,000, more than doubling its high estimate of $15,000. Wiley’s lot was one of 23 in this sale donated by artists and sold to benefit the Brooklyn Museum. Some auction first-timers also achieved impressive results: $68,500 for a Keltie Ferris, for example, and $52,500 for an Angel Otero.
The long sale was not without one minor hitch. Auctioneers worked in shifts; one auctioneer, when passing the baton to his successor, walked off with the hammer itself. Bidding was briefly suspended.