NEW YORK—Sotheby’s sale of 20th-century British art in London on July 13 realized £10.9 million ($22.1 million), generously surpassing last December’s record total of £7.7 million ($15 million) and exceeding the overall high estimate.
Sotheby’s reports that 25 artists’ records were set, including new highs for Sir Terry Frost and Ben Johnson.
“The market is on the move,” says specialist James Rawlin. “With no fewer than 25 records established in a sale that toppled its high estimate by over £3 million, there’s no doubt that demand for 20th-century British art is getting stronger all the time.”
The auction included 29 works from the collection of Italian chef Antonio Carluccio and his wife, Priscilla Carluccio, from their Neal Street restaurant. Designed by Sir Terence Conran in 1971, the restaurant subsequently was owned by Carluccio. His wife is Conran’s sister.
The list of artists who dined there, exchanged food for art and made work specifically for the restaurant includes names the likes of David Hockney, who designed the menu, Eduardo Paolozzi, Patrick Caulfield and Frank Stella. The contents of the restaurant were put up for sale because the property is now being redeveloped.
Estimated to bring £77,000/111,000, the works fetched £166,740 ($338,132). Of these the top-selling piece was Hockney’s design for the menu of the restaurant in colored pencil and colored crayon with collage design. Estimated at £15,000/20,000, it sold for £48,000 ($97,354). A wooden relief by Paolozzi, The Neal Street Relief, circa late 1980s, brought £32,400, or $65,714 (estimate: £20,000/30,000).
Churchill Painting Leads
The top lot of the overall sale, as well as an artist’s record, was Chartwell Landscape with Sheep, ca. early 1940s, by Sir Winston Churchill, which was bought for £1 million, or $2 million (estimate: £150,000/200,000), by private New York dealer Nicholas Maclean. It was followed by Dame Barbara Hepworth’s Three Part Vertical, which won £456,800 or $926,482 (estimate: £200,000/300,000) from London dealer Daniel Katz.
Another work by Churchill, Valley of the Ourika, near Marrakech, 1948, sold for £311,200, or $631,176 (estimate: £150,000/200,000).
Among other records at the sale: Alan Davie’s Goddess of the Green, a 1954 oil, realized £234,000 or $474,600, soaring past the estimated £25,000/35,000 and selling to a phone bidder. The work was underbid by London dealers Ray Waterhouse, of Waterhouse & Dodd, and Alan Hobart, of Pyms Gallery.
Two pictures by Laurence Stephen Lowry were featured among the top works: People at the Seaside, 1949, made £423,200, or $858,334 (estimate: £350,000/450,000); and Man Looking Over Fence, 1964, brought in £240,000, or $486,768 (estimate: £100,000/150,000).
Commented Rawlin: “The market for works from the 1950s has risen sharply. As a consequence, collectors are now looking to other periods, including works from the 1960s and ’70s.”