LONDON—Sotheby’s kicked off the series, on Oct. 13, with a £2.8 million ($5.2 million) fund-raising auction for the expansion of the Whitechapel Gallery, in London’s East End, offering works by 61 artists who had exhibited there in the past 20 years. The total comfortably passed the presale high estimate of £2.3 million—a record for a charity sale of contemporary art in the U.K. (No buyer’s premium or VAT was charged.)
The most generous donation came from artist Peter Doig, who gave his first “snow” painting, Charley’s Space, 1991. Estimated at £300,000/400,000, it fetched £820,000 ($1.5 million) from a phone bidder who trumped Hauser & Wirth’s Gregor Muir and five other contenders. A large (76-by-156-inch), brand-new spot painting, Raffinose Undecaacetate, by Damien Hirst—made especially for the sale, according to Sotheby’s—was acquired by an Asian collector in the room for £450,000, or $832,500 (estimate: £400,000/600,000); and Albert Oehlen’s Pro Brown, also made in 2006, went to Matthew Carey-Williams, of the Haunch of Venison gallery, London, for £150,000 ($277,500), more than double the high estimate of £70,000.
Record Set for Diebenkorn Print
Records among the top prices were set for a print by Richard Diebenkorn, whose colored etching Green, 1986, sold for £140,000, or $259,000 (estimate: £60,000/80,000); and for Tony Cragg, whose Finnish Totem, 2000, a unique wood sculpture, took £90,000, or $166,500 (estimate: £40,000/60,000) from Carey-Williams.
Other high prices were given for Lucian Freud’s etching The Painter’s Garden, which was acquired for £48,000, or $88,800 (estimate: £20,000/30,000) by art consultant Bettina von Hase, who also bought Kiki Smith’s 2006 drawing Accordance, for £23,000, or $42,500 (estimate: £12,000/15,000).
Jeff Wall’s 2005 cibachrome print A Woman Consulting a Catalogue (ironically, a Christie’s catalogue), a working proof for an edition of five lightboxes, was picked up by Muir for £50,000, or $92,500 (estimate: £50,000/70,000); and a painting by Francis Alÿs, Untitled (New York City, 20 Feb 1995), sold to Los Angeles dealer Thomas Solomon for £35,000, or $64,750 (estimate: £12,000/15,000).
Several U.K. private collectors were buying in the room. Former Whitechapel chairman Keir McGuiness bought Gary Webb’s mirrored screen Little Split, 2006, for £18,000, or $33,300 (estimate: £6,000/8,000); and Nan Goldin’s Guy at Wigstock, NYC, 1991, for £14,000, or $25,900, comfortably above the high estimate of £12,000.
Hirst’s business manager Frank Dunphy bought Michael Craig-Martin’s 2006 painting Portrait (Green), for £20,000, or $37,000 (estimate: £12,000/18,000); Sophie Calle’s 1990 photo-diptych Les Tombes (Father, Mother) for £6,500, or $12,000 (estimate: £2,000/3,000); and G.L Brierley’s 2004 oil-on-panel Naughty Puppies No. 9 for £11,000, or $20,300 (estimate: £500/700). British collector Muriel Salem, of the Cranford Collection, bought Rosemarie Trockel’s digital print Untitled, 2006, for £30,000, or $55,500 (estimate: £30,000/40,000).
Collector John Huntingford acquired a 2006 steamed ash-wood sculpture by Richard Deacon,titled . . . or Lose It, for £24,000, or $44,400 (estimate: £15,000/20,000). And Whitechapel Gallery trustee Dominic Palfreyman won the Atlas Group/Walid Ra’ad’s lightjet print Untitled (Bey_City_V, 1982-2004) for £9,500 ($17,600), above the high estimate of £7,000.
Some galleries supported their artists. The Maureen Paley gallery, London, bought Gillian Wearing’s 2001 photograph Trauma for £5,000, or $9,200 (estimate: £5,000/7,000). Dealer Benjamin Brown bought Tony Bevan’s 2006 painting Table Top for £30,000, or $55,500 (estimate: £30,000/40,000). Modern Art owner and director Stuart Shave took Eva Rothschild’s spindly Supersoft, 2006, for £11,000, or $20,350 (estimate: £6,000/8,000).
And Hauser & Wirth’s Muir bought Paul McCarthy’s editioned photograph Basement Bunker . . ., 2003, for £24,000, or $44,400 (estimate: £25,000/35,000). Gimpel Fils, London, which has shown Carl Andre in the past, bought his 1968 typed-carbon-on-paper Lindbergh for £20,000, or $37,000 (estimate: £20,000/25,000).Six works went unsold, but those by most of the 13 artists hitherto untried at auction found buyers.