Christie’s staged its second evening sale dedicated to art made in the 21st century Tuesday, netting a total of $103 million for the 29 lots. That result fell just short of the high end of the lots’ adjusted presale estimates between $76 million and $106 million.
The total paled in comparison to Monday evening’s sale of 36 works from the collection of the Zurich sibling art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann. Buoyed by a record-breaking Warhol portrait that scored $195 million, Monday’s sale reached $318 million.
Records were set Tuesday for works by Eric Fischl and Helmut Newton, their works selling for $4.1 million and $2.3 million, respectively. However, the overall mood on Tuesday was understandably tame, with one New York art adviser describing it as “lackluster.” The result was half the $210.5 million achieved in last year’s equivalent sale, generated across a larger grouping of 37 lots.
Two lots by Jean-Michel Basquiat, including his 1982 wood-panel triptych Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict that was expected to fetch $30 million, were withdrawn before the sale’s start. Three of the lots, including works by Jeff Koons and Yoshitomo Nara, were backed by financial guarantees.
Christie’s Hong Kong-based head of Asia’s Classic Art group, Georgina Hilton, led the two-hour contemporary sale on Tuesday night, which began after a 15-minute delay. A full room of attendees, among them art advisers and ex-Sotheby’s rainmakers Amy Cappellazzo and Yuki Terase, gathered in the house’s Rockefeller Center salesroom to view the sale.
Among the lots to fetch the highest price of the night was Gerhard Richter’s untiled 1994 red, green, and yellow abstraction. Once owned by Eric Clapton, it last sold at auction in 2012 for $34.2 million. Resurfacing at Christie’s this year, the canvas hammered at $33 million, below its expectation of $35 million, which was offered via estimate upon request. The final price was $36.5 million with buyer’s fees, meaning the work made only a minimal return since its last sale a decade ago.
Failing to excite bidders was Christopher Wool’s untitled 1988 canvas featuring the phrase “Trojnors.” The work hammered at $7 million, just below its $8 million estimate, going to a buyer on the phone with Christie’s co-chairman of the 20th and 21st century art departments, Alex Rotter. Likewise, Banksy’s Diamond In The Rough (2010), made from a steel truck door and featuring a spray-painted image of a kneeling child holding a diamond, hammered at its $3 million low estimate. The lot sold for a final price of $3.6 million.
Bidders from Hong Kong and New York competed for 27-year-old artist Anna Weyant’s 2020 canvas Summertime, a portrait of a despondent half-naked brunette. The sale of the work, offered as the opening lot, comes just days after Gagosian announced representation of Weyant, making her the youngest artist to join the mega-dealer’s roster. Weyant’s canvas sold on a bid of $1.2 million, for a final price of $1.5 million, to a bidder on the phone with Christies Hong Kong specialist Wendy Fang. The result was 7.5 times the $200,000 low estimate.
A work by another of Gagosian’s artists, Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz, known for her sleek figures whose faces are often obscured, followed a similar course. Her 2019 canvas Portrait of a Lady (After Louis Leopold Boilly) sold for $1.5 million with buyer’s fees, well surpassing its $200,000 expectation.
Following bidding activity for the Neo-Expressionist Francesco Clemente during the Ammann collection sale the night prior, demand for the 1980s genre proved alive during bidding on an Eric Fischl painting from 1982. The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, a scene depicting five nude figures lounging on a boat, hammered at a bid of $3.4 million. Selling for a final price of $4.1 million, the result doubled the work’s $2 million estimate and set a new record for the artist.
A new record was also set for Helmut Newton, whose large-scale 1980 black-and-white photograph of a buxom nude woman seemed misplaced among paintings by emerging market stars. It sold at a hammer price of $1.9 million to applause, more than doubling the $800,000 estimate. The final price was $2.3 million.
Elsewhere in the sale, a 2017 canvas by the late Canadian painter Matthew Wong, known for his dream-like scenes that often harbor literary references, surpassed its expectations. Green Room (2017), an interior scene, sold for $5.3 million with buyer’s fees, more than four times the low estimate of $1.5 million. It went to a buyer on the phone with Christie’s Hong Kong specialist Jackie Ho.
A trompe l’oeil canvas by 28-year-old painter Issy Wood, whose market has been ascending recently, fared well. Kinkstarter (2020), which depicts a two-toned leather coat, hammered for $380,000, more than double the $150,000 estimate. It went for a final price of $480,800, going to a bidder on the phone with Christie’s Los Angeles director Sonya Roth.