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Sotheby's February 2011 Contemporary Art Evening Auction Realises $71,051,252
Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild - Tonight’s Top Lot - Sells For £7,209,250 / $11,547,056 / €8,607,827. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- Tonight, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale realised £44,359,900/$71,051,252/€52,965,613 - above the high estimate (£30.4-£43 million/$48.7-$68.9 million**). With ‘Looking Closely’, this sum brings the total for Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction Series so far this Season to £88,022,550 /$138,728,359 /€104,465,529 (est. £56-78 million) – well above combined pre-sale expectations – representing the second-highest total for a February Contemporary Art Sales Series in London and the highest total for a Contemporary Art Sales Series in London since July 2008. More than 200 clients from all corners of the globe registered to bid from the telephones and in the standing-room-only saleroom. Enthusiastic bidding for the first lot of the sale, Ai Weiwei’s hotly contested Sunflower Seeds, set the pace of the auction which went on to establish sell-through rates of 91.5% by lot and 95.5% by value.

Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby’s Chairman of Contemporary Art Europe, said: “This evening’s results, combined with the remarkable results established for Looking Closely last week, bring the overall total for Contemporary Art sold in this series to an outstanding £88 million. This is our highest total for a Contemporary Art sales series in London since July 2008, and our day sale is still to come. In tonight’s sale, as with ‘Looking Closely’, we saw collectors responding strongly to works of the highest quality that have not been available on the market for very many years. Buyers were out in force for such offerings, with multiple bidders on so many of the lots and participation from no fewer than 12 countries, demonstrating the depth of demand for the very best that the market has to offer.”

Oliver Barker, Senior Director and Senior International Specialist in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department, said: “The enduring and global appeal of Warhol was in full evidence tonight, with strong competition for his rare ‘Nine Multicoloured Marilyns’, as well as for the other four works by the artist we offered this evening. But Warhol shared the limelight with a number of others – including Juan Muñoz and Franz Gertsch. Both artists were represented by rare works that had been out of circulation for a very long time, and both excited enormous competition: Gertsch’s ‘Lucian 1’ exceeded the previous record by a factor of ten, and competition for Muñoz’s record-breaking ‘Conversation Piece’ drove the price to five times its estimate. Following the exceptional prices achieved for Bacon and Freud at Sotheby’s last week, British Art was again much sought after tonight: works by Auerbach, Hockney and Riley commanded strong prices, and Glenn Brown’s ‘Declining Nude’ was particularly coveted.”

The top lot of the evening was Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild of 1990. Monumental in scale (225cm by 200cm), this intensely-worked, museum-quality piece attracted bids from some five prospective buyers who drove the price to £7,209,250 / $11,547,056 / €8,607,827 - beyond the pre-sale high estimate (est. £5–7 million / €5,830,000–8,160,000 / $7,740,000–10,840,000). The buyer – an anonymous telephone bidder – took home a masterpiece of abstract art by one of the key pioneers of the movement.

Works by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) were in strong demand. His acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas Nine Multicoloured Marilyns - a rare masterpiece from the artist’s hugely important Reversals series – was hotly contested, selling for £3,177,250 / $5,089,001 / €3,793,629, against an estimate of £2-3 million (€2,330,000-3,500,000 / $3,100,000-4,650,000). Four further works by Warhol also performed well, realising total of £5,286,250 / $8,466,987 / €6,311,769 against a combined pre-sale total of £3,800,000-5,500,000.

The first lot of the sale, 100 kilograms of Ai Weiwei’s handmade porcelain Sunflower Seeds (Kui Hua Zi) - the first of the artist’s ‘Sunflower Seed’ installations ever to appear at auction - sold for £349,250 / $559,394 / €417,004 (£3.50 per seed) – more than four times the pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000 (€93,500-140,000 / $124,000-186,000). Four bidders, both in the saleroom and on the telephones, battled to acquire 100,000 of the artist’s seeds. Sunflower Seeds (Kui Hua Zi), which was executed in 2010 and is from an edition of ten unique variants, draws together many of the themes and formal concerns of Weiwei’s work to date, in a sculptural piece which is at once singular and complex in form and meaning.

“This work of art has captured the imagination of the collecting community,” commented Alexander Branczik, Director and Specialist in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department. He continued: “We are very pleased with the price realised tonight, which has established an auction benchmark for a work in this medium by Ai Weiwei.”

Headlining the British Art component of this evening’s auction was David Hockney's Hotel L'Arbois, Sainte-Maxime of 1968. The painting was executed shortly after the success of Hockney's celebrated run of five solo exhibitions in 1966 and tonight commanded £1,329,250 / $2,129,060 / €1,587,121 against a presale estimate of £1-1.5 million (€1,170,000-1,750,000 / $1,550,000-2,330,000), far in excess of the sum it sold for when it was offered by Sotheby’s New York in 2005.

Further works in the British Art section which sold well include the remarkable and iconic canvas from a crucial period of Bridget Riley's historic oeuvre, Persephone 1, which was estimated at £600,000-800,000 (€700,000-935,000 / $930,000-1,240,000). The painting sold above expectations for the sum of £881,250 / $1,411,498 /€ 1,052,210. Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North from the Collection of The Brussels Airport Company brought £623,650/$998,900/€744,637 exceeding the high estimate of £600,000 (€700,000 / $930,000).

An auction record was established for a work by the Swiss artist Franz Gertsch with the sale of Luciano I for the outstanding sum of £1,497,250 / $2,398,145 / €1,787,713, well above the pre-sale expectations (est. £500,000-700,000 / €585,000-820,000/ $775,000-1,090,000). This exceptional artwork was contested by 5 bidders, before it finally sold an anonymous buyer on the telephone. Commenting on the sale of this work, Carsten Ahrens, Carsten Ahrens, Director of the Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, said: "This is a terrific result for one of the most excellent paintings by Franz Gertsch. It was a difficult decision to sell this much appreciated and loved artwork, but the sale of this painting has secured the future of the museum - the Weserburg.”

Three works by the celebrated Spanish artist Juan Muñoz garnered particular attention from bidders in tonight’s auction. Two of the works from a private European collection, both entitled Conversation Piece, are from the artist’s popular series. The first, cast in bronze in two parts, is one of the most important works by Muñoz ever to come up at auction and fetched £3,065,250 / $4,909,611 / €3,659,901 (est. £800,000-1,200,000 / €935,000-1,400,000 /$1,240,000-1,860,000). The second, from the most formative years of this series and created in polyester resin in three parts, sold for £937,250 / $1,501,193 / €1,119,074 (est. £600,000-800,000 / €700,000-935,000 /$930,000-1,240,000). His monumental iron work Two Sentries sold for £301,250/ $482,512 / €359,692 (est. £300,000-400,000 / €350,000-466,000 /$465,000-625,000), bringing a combined total for sales of Muñoz tonight of £4,303,750 / $6,893,316/ €5,138,672.

The strongest price established this evening among the younger artists represented in the sale was for Glenn Brown’s Declining Nude which brought £1,273,250 / $2,39,365 / €1,520,257 (est. £600-800,000 / €700,00-935,000 / $930,000-1,240,000).





Last Week News

February 15, 2011

Madrid's Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Presents an Exhibition Devoted to Jean-Léon Gérome

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass Says Some Objects Looted from Museum Found

Bas-Relief of a Sacred Character Discovered by Mexican Archaeologists at El Tajin

Frick Collection Exhibition Considers Rembrandt Through the Eyes of Two Collectors

Milwaukee Art Museum Offers a Fresh Perspective on Frank Lloyd Wright with New Exhibition

150 Archaeology Graduates Protest Against Egypt's Antiquities Chief Zahi Hawass

Venetian and Flemish Masters from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp on View in Brussels

Prince Philip: Celebrating Ninety Years at the Drawings Gallery in Windsor Castle

American Master David Smith Featured in Exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington

Researchers Say Slaves Hid African Charms on Colonial Greenhouse in Maryland

Rare Burges Furniture with Literary Connections Acquired for Bedford Museum

Property From The Life and Career of Musician Slash to Be Sold By Julien's Auctions

Outstanding Selection of Modern Drawings at Swan Galleries' Work on Paper Auction

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt Named Most Romantic Oil Painting for Valentine's Day 2011

September 11 Memorial to Have Limited Access to a Set Number of People for Years

New Work by Los Angeles Native Artist Laurie Frick at Edward Cella Art + Architecture

Once Upon a Wartime: Classic War Stories for Children at the Imperial War Museum in London

Deep Impressions: Willie Cole Works on Paper at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

International Survey of Experimental Film, Video and New Media at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

First Major U.S. Retrospective of Artist Richard Hawkins Travels to Los Angeles

Royal Peek-a-Boo: Kate's Sheer Dress to Be Sold

Surface/Tension: New Work by Kitty Kraus, Dan Shaw-Town and Gedi Sibony at Lisson Gallery

Sketchy Intelligence: Artist Unveils Study of MI6

Anthony McNerney Appointed Head of Contemporary Art at Bonhams

Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ty Cobb and Dozens of other Rare Autographed Baseballs at Heritage Auctions

February 14, 2011

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass Says Some Objects Looted from Museum Found

Galerie Max Hetzler Presents a Small Retrospective of Major British Artist Bridget Riley

Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 Examines a Moment of Radical Experimentation in 20th Century Art

The National Gallery Presents Roxy Paine: One Hundred Foot Line and Painting Manufacture Unit

Philbrook Museum of Art Features Exhibition American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow

Saint Louis Art Museum Presents Breathtaking Exhibition "Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea"

Kunsthalle Mannheim Presents Ré Soupault: Rediscovery of a Companion of the Avant-Garde

Prince Philip: Celebrating Ninety Years at the Drawings Gallery in Windsor Castle

American Master David Smith Featured in Exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington

Researchers Say Slaves Hid African Charms on Colonial Greenhouse in Maryland

The Fundación Juan March Presents "Cold America" Geometrical Abstraction in Latin America

14th International Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair to Open April 14-17, 2011

A Table from the Sea's Edge by Silas Birtwistle on Display in Liverpool's World Museum

Virginia Museum and The Martin Agency Use Technology to Reach Picasso Enthusiasts

The Signal Gallery Presents First Group Show 'Mixed Doubles'

Masterpieces to Appear in the Upcoming Art Revolution Taipei 2011

ArtPrize 2011 Registration Dates Announced

The Knoxville Museum of Art Presents Nine Video Works by Filmmaker Peter Sarkisian

The Jewish Museum Presents 'The Line and the Circle' Video Installation by Sharone Lifschitz

Romancing the West: Alfred Jacob Miller Exhibition Opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe on view at the Walters Art Museum

Best of the West Awards Recognise the Work of the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

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February 13, 2011

International Artists Deal with Unsharpness in "Blur After Richter" at Hamburger Kunsthalle

Exhibition at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts Incites Questions About the Act of Dreaming

18 Photographic Prints by Alex Van Gelder of Louise Bourgeois's Hands at Hauser & Wirth

AAMD and AAM Statement Regarding Pollock and University of Iowa Museum of Art

Exhibition by American Master Philip Guston Opens at the Phillips Collection

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Scottish Artist Douglas Gordon's New Film k.364 at Gagosian on Britannia Street

University of Virginia Art Museum Opens Excavating New Ground: American Art in the 1970s

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British Artist Lindsay Seers Exhibits "It has to Be this Way" at BALTIC Centre in Gateshead

Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science Reopens After $9 Million Renovation

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag Releases App Featuring László Moholy-Nagy Exhibition

The Artist Up Close: Portraits of Scottish Artists from the Prints and Drawings Collection

Art Gallery of Alberta Launches New Series of Alberta-Focused Exhibitions

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Walters Art Museum Curator Named to Head Major German Museum

International Center of Photography Awarded "Save America's Treasures" Grant

February 12, 2011

Art and Archives Make Up Caravaggio Show at Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza Church in Rome

Yale and Peruvian Authorities Sign Deal on the Return of Thousands of Incan Artifacts

China and U. of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology Resolve Dispute Over Exhibit

Marine Archaeologists Find Whaling Ship from 1823 Wreck Northwest of Honolulu

The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí Acquires Etude Pour 'Le Miel est Plus Douce que la Sang'

INAH's Exhibition "Teotihuacan City of Gods" has Been Visited by 350,000 Europeans

Art & Design of the 20th/21st Century to Honor Massimo and Lella Vignelli with Award

Guggenheim Exhibition Explores Language and Translation through Video, Film, and New Media

Royal Academy of Arts Stage Premiums Featuring the Work of 16 Postgraduate Students

Historic Landmarks in the United Kingdom to Host Olympic Parties in 2012

Gagosian Gallery Paris Presents "Rodin - Sugimoto," an Exhibition of Sculpture and Photography

Time Magazine's Image of Disfigured Afghan Woman Wins World Press Photo Prize for 2010

The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army on View at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Wine Cellar of Douglas Bunn, a Key Figure in British Showjumping, has a near Perfect Round at Bonhams

The Portland Museum of Art's Winslow Homer Studio is the Inspiration for J.Crew's Spring 2011 Men's Collection

International Center of Photography Announces 2011 Infinity Award Winners

Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby's this Week Total £140m /$225m /165m

NYU Professor Temporarily Removes Camera from Head

Fans Rally to Raise Money for RoboCop Statue in Detroit

February 11, 2011

Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali Works Boost Bumper Sotheby's "Looking Closely" Sale

Gagosian Gallery Paris Presents "Rodin - Sugimoto," an Exhibition of Sculpture and Photography

Time Magazine's Image of Disfigured Afghan Woman Wins World Press Photo Prize for 2010

The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army on View at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí Acquires Etude Pour 'Le Miel est Plus Douce que la Sang'

INAH's Exhibition "Teotihuacan City of Gods" has Been Visited by 350,000 Europeans

Art & Design of the 20th/21st Century to Honor Massimo and Lella Vignelli with Lifetime Achievement Award

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Barbican Art Gallery Presents Brooklyn-Based Cory Arcangel's "Beat the Champ"

The Whitney Opens Exhibition of Highlights from Emily Fisher Landau's Collection

West Dean Tapestry and Tracey Emin Collaborate on Tapestry to Be Unveiled at Saatchi Gallery

The Brooklyn Museum is Giving About 5,000 Pre-Columbian Artifacts to Costa Rica

New Museum to Spotlight Four Decades of Works by Lynda Benglis in Major Retrospective

Harlem's Legendary Apollo Theater is Subject of Exhibition at Museum of the City of New York

Recent Paintings by Artist Laurie Fendrich at Gary Snyder Project Space in New York

Five New Public Art Projects to Debut at San Francisco International Airport

Annie Leibovitz Exhibition Breaks Museum of Contemporary Art Attendence Records

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Fine Jewelry Auction at Morphy's Features Private Collection of Florida Jewelers

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum Receives Donation for the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery

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Austin Museum of Art Announces Departure of Executive Director and Chief Curator

February 10, 2011

Paul Gauguin's "Nature Morte a 'L'Esperance," Fails to Sell at Christie's Auction in London

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Guitar Heroes Exhibition Features Instruments Created by Three Legendary Master Craftsmen

Paris to Be Sotheby's European Centre for Decorative Art and Photographs Sales

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Fine Jewelry Auction at Morphy's Features Private Collection of Florida Jewelers

The Whitney Opens Exhibition of Highlights from Emily Fisher Landau's Collection

West Dean Tapestry Studio and Tracey Emin Collaborate on Tapestry to Be Unveiled at Saatchi Gallery

Louise Nevelson Work of Art Cleaned in Nelson-Atkins Gallery While Visitors Watch

Exhibition at Fundació Suñol of 27 Works, Dating from 1924-1998, Reflect the Visions of 18 Artists

Sexual Nature Exhibition at London's Natural History Museum has Celebrity Attraction

Christian Lacroix Selects Traditional Costumes from the Near East for Exhibition

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Bonhams to Sell Ex-Debenhams Chairman Sir Frederick Richmond's Extensive Needlework Collection

Clifton Childree Creates a Gigantic Installation Comprised of Films and Found Objects at Kunsthalle Wien

Maryhill Museum of Art Board of Trustees Unanimous in Decision to Begin Construction on New Wing

The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts Opens at Brown University

Extremely Rare and Important William Blake Letter on "The Last Judgement" for Sale at Bonhams

Thousands of Historical Mexican Photographs Now Part of an Electronic Catalogue

A New Antony Gormley Sculpture "Transport" Unveiled at Canterbury Cathedral

Henrik Olesen Presents New Works at MoMA for His First U.S. Solo Museum Exhibition

Paul Ruddock Elected a Trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

New National Immigration Museum Urged for DC

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