NEW YORK, NY.-
Tonight at Sothebys
in New York, Andy Warhols monumental masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, brought a remarkable $43,762,500, soaring past the pre-sale estimate of $8/12 million. Competition was fierce. Auctioneer Tobias Meyer opened the bidding at $6 million and was immediately met with an almost unheard of response - a bid of $12 million, twice his opening bid. Five more bidders raised their paddles before the winning bid was cast by an anonymous purchaser bidding on the telephone. The Warhol was the top-selling lot in a sale of Contemporary Art that brought an outstanding total of $134,438,000, far-above pre-sale expectations (est. $67.9/97.7 million) and with all but two lots finding buyers. The sale was 98.6% sold by value and 96.3% sold by lot the highest sold-by -lot total by lot in about twenty years, with only one exception. New auction records were established for Alice Neel, Jean Dubuffet, Juan Muñoz and Germaine Richier; as well as for a sculpture by Willem de Kooning, a neon by Bruce Nauman and a work on paper by Jackson Pollock.
The desire for great art is very strong, said Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art. In a market that has been characterized by pent-up demand, we were able to offer fresh material with conservative estimates, and our sellers were rewarded with the remarkable results we saw this evening.
Anthony Grant, International Senior Specialist of Contemporary Art, noted, The stars aligned tonight. With an offering of true icons of post war art, we saw bidding from all corners of the world, from both dyed-in-wool collectors and new clients alike. The Myers Collection in particular offered a great international sampling of artists Richier, Gottlieb, Appel and Neel - and attracted a great depth of bidding, both private and institutional.
Andy Warhols 200 One Dollar Bills is a hugely important work for American art history, said Alex Rotter, Head of the Contemporary Art Department in New York. Not only was it one of the starting points of Pop Art, but this picture had the perfect ownership history directly from Warhols dealer to the legendary collector Robert C. Scull, and then from his estate sale at Sothebys to the current owner who acquired it in 1986 for $385,000. We are immensely gratified by the extraordinary price of more than $43 million achieved for the work this evening.
In addition to 200 One Dollar Bills several other works by Andy Warhol achieved strong prices tonight. A Self- Portrait from 1965 that the artist gave to Cathy Naso, a young receptionist at The Factory, sold for $6,130,500, more than tripling the pre-sale estimate of $1/1.5 million. More than seven bidders fought for the painting, which had been kept in a closest for 42 years, giving the colors a stunning quality and freshness.
I think I am dreaming, said Ms. Naso, who attended the auction this evening but chose to keep a low profile. Im simply overwhelmed, both by the amazing price and also by all the attention this painting received. After all these years in the closet, the painting has now come out and has travelled to London, to Hong Kong and has been seen all over the world. Andy has made me famous for fifteen minutes and Ive come to realize that fifteen minutes of fame is more than enough.
An Untitled 1962 drawing of a roll of dollar bills, also by Warhol, that came from the collection of Leonard Newman, eventually sold for $4,226,500 against a pre sale estimate of $2.5/3.5 million with seven bidders competing.
Other works that achieved strong prices include Jasper Johns Gray Numbers (lot 29), which saw seven bidders drive the price to $8,706,500 (est. $5/7 million). Orange, Red, Orange (lot 47) by Mark Rothko from the Estate of Lucia Moreira Salles had not appeared on the market for nearly 30 years and fetched $3,386,500 (est. $2/3 million) after a contest involving six bidders. Trinité-Champs Elysées (lot 48) by Jean Dubuffet made $6,130,500 (est. $4/6 million) and set a new record for the artist at auction. Violins Violence Silence (lot 27) by Bruce Nauman established a new record for a neon work by the artist when it sold for $4,002,500, comfortably in excess of the $2.5/3.5 million estimate.
The sale began with a group of 20 works from the Collection of Mary Schiller Myers and Louis S. Myers, noted collectors and arts benefactors from Akron, Ohio. Two world auction records were set by works from the Myers Collection: a record was set for American artist Alice Neel when six bidders competed for Jackie Curtis and Rita Red (Lot 2), which brought $1,650,500, well exceeding its estimate of $400/600,000, while Germaine Richiers La Feuille (lot 4) was sought-after by six bidders, driving the price past the previous auction record and its estimate to bring $842,500. A new record for a Willem de Kooning sculpture was achieved by Large Torso, which sold for $5,682,500, well over the previous record of $3.9 million. Untitled XV, an abstract landscape from perhaps the most exuberant period in de Koonings rich and complex career, brought $6,130,500 against an estimate of $5/7 million. Donald Judds copper Untitled also exceeded expectations, bringing $1,650,500 against an estimate of $800,000/1.2 million.