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.