LONDON—Sotheby’s recorded the highest total to date for a contemporary art sale in London on June 29 when it sold all but nine of 88 lots, to bring £108.8 million ($174 million) against a pre-sale estimate of £74 million/105 million.
The majority of sales came from the collection of 1960s and 70s German art belonging to Count Christian Duerckheim, and acquired throughoutthe 1970s and 80s. In all, 33 out of 34 lots from the Duerckheim collection brought £60.4 million ($96.7 million), compared with an estimate of £32 million/46 million. Bidders from 14 different countries competed for the works and five artist records were broken.
The highest price in the Duerckheim sale was £5.7 million ($9.2 million), on an estimate of £3 million/4 million, given by a private European collector for Sigmar Polke’s Dschungel (Jungle), 1967, followed by the £4.6 million ($7.4 million), on an estimate of £2 million/3 million, for Polke’s Stadtbild II, 1968, given by German dealer Paul Schönewald.
Larry Gagosian underbid two Polkes: Palm Tree on Fabric, 1969, which sold to a phone bidder for £2.2 million ($3.5 million), on an estimate of £1.5 million/2 million, and Four Chinese, ca. 1978-79, which sold for £1.4 million ($2.2 million) on an estimate of £800,000/1.2 million.
New York dealer Christophe van de Weghe pursued the highest-priced lots by Gerhard Richter, on behalf of a client, underbidding Girl in Deckchair, 1964, which sold for £4 million ($6.5 million) on an estimate of £1.2 million/1.8 million, and buying 1024 Farben, 1974, for £4.3 million ($6.9 million), well above the estimate of £1 million/1.5 million. German collector Jurgen Hall bought Richter’sSisters, 1967 for £2.5 million ($4 million), compared with an estimate of £1.2 million/1.8 million, and announced after the sale that it would be a gift to the Kunstmuseum Bonn. San Francisco dealer Anthony Meier, bought Richter’s Korsika (Feuer), 1969 for £2.1 million ($3.4 million), on an estimate of £1 million/1.5 million.
A new record for Georg Baselitz was set when New York’s Acquavella Gallery bought his “hero” painting, Spekulatius, 1965, for £3.2 million ($5.2 million) against an estimate of £2 million/3 million. Dealer Thaddeus Ropac, of Paris and Salzburg, who represents Baselitz in mainland Europe, underbid on most of his nine works in the sale, but only secured one—Muh Kühe, 1966—for £937,250 ($1.5 million), against an estimate of £600,000/800,000. Other Baselitz buyers were London dealer Alan Hobart, who bought The Tree, 1966, for £1.8 million ($2.9 million), against an estimate of £600,000/800,000, and German art advisor Jorg Bertz, who bought Dog Boy, 1966, for £1.3 million ($2.1 million), against an estimate of £600,000/800,000. American interest in the artist was further indicated as one telephone bidder, bidding though Sotheby’s Lisa Dennison, bought three works as well as paying a record £301,250 ($482,000), compared with an estimate of £300,000/400,000, for Eugen Schönebeck’s Likeness, 1964. Also paying a record price was the Michael Werner Gallery, which bought Markus Lüpertz’s Palette I, 1973, for £205,250 ($328,400) against an estimate of £80,000/120,000.
In the mixed-owner section, sales were led by another Francis Bacon, Crouching Nude, 1961, which sold to a European buyer against London’s Helly Nahmad, for £8.3 million ($13.3 million) compared with an estimate of £7 million/9 million. But the top works by American artists struggled to meet estimates as Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled, 1981, sold for £5.4 million ($8.7 million),just clearing the £5 million/7 million estimate, and Andy Warhol’s Debbie Harry, 1980, sold for £3.7 million ($6 million) compared with an estimate of £3.5 million/5.5 million.
Christopher Wool’s Untitled (P137), 1991, sold to Gagosian for £1.9 million ($3 million), compared with an estimate of £1.5 million/2.5 million. Sean Scully’s Stranger, 1987, sold for £457,250 ($731,600), compared with an estimate of £400,000/600,000 to his London dealer Timothy Taylor. And Warhol’s small Dollar Sign, 1980, sold to L&M Arts for £623,650 ($997,840), on an estimate of £200,000/300,000. Andreas Gursky’s Engadin II, 2006, sold to advisor Rosario Saxe-Coburg for £937,250 ($1.5 million), against an estimate of £500,000/700,000.
Unsold works included Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can (Tomato), 1962, which was estimated at £3.5 million/4.5 million; and Jeff Koons’s basketball sculpture, Encased—Three Rows, 1983–1993/8, which carried an estimate of £600,000/1 million.