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Christie's Major Two-Week Spring Sales Series Yields $557 Million and New World Records
Women view Pierre-August Renoir's oil on canvas 'Nu allonge' (R) and Paul Gauguin's oil on canvas 'Le Vallon,Tahiti' (L) during a preview for the sale of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art from estate of Swiss art connoisseur Ernst Beyeler at Chistie's auction house in New York. The sale of the paintings and sculptures will take place in London on June 21st and 22nd as part of Christie's major Evening and Day sales of Impressionist & Modern Art. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie's reports its two-week sales series devoted to important Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art totaled $556,944,875 (£338,398,139/€384,154,653) and yielded average sell-through rates of 87% by lot and 90% by value. These stellar results underscore Christie's position as market leader for the major spring sales series in the Americas. The next round of auctions in these categories will take place next month in London, featuring important private collections from the estate of Swiss collector and dealer Ernst Beyeler and from the pioneering curator and collector Kay Saatchi.

Of the most recent sales series in New York, Marc Porter, Chairman and President of Christie's Americas, noted, “These sales were marked by strong, sensible bidding on the part of collectors, with moments of rational exuberance. Collectors and dealers alike were committed to acquiring the very best examples of work, whether from blue-chip legends like Picasso and Warhol, or from contemporary artists like Urs Fischer and Marc Quinn. We are honored that Christie’s emerged as the auction house of choice for many of this season’s most talked-about works of art – from Vlaminck’s vivid 1905 Fauvist landscape that enthralled visitors to our galleries, to Fisher’s 35,000 pound teddy bear unveiled on Park Avenue, to the 1960s-era Warhol self-portrait that inspired an epic, 16-minute bidding battle in our saleroom. We look forward to more landmark auction moments like this in our next major sales series in London this summer. ”

In total, a whopping 88 lots offered over the course of the last two weeks surpassed the $1 million price threshold. Two lots — the record-setting 1963-64 Warhol and the rediscovered Rothko — exceeded the $30 million mark, and nine lots exceeded the $10 million mark. Numerous artist records were set — for Maurice de Vlaminck, Maximilien Luce, Cindy Sherman, Urs Fischer, Richard Diebenkorn, Cy Twombly and Anselm Kiefer, among others. Among the many landmark prices achieved, Christie’s also set the record for the most expensive photograph ever sold (Sherman) and the top price for any Warhol portrait.

Among the themes and trends that emerged during the sales series was the continued demand for top-quality works by Warhol. Christie’s offered a total of 25 works by the art world’s King of Pop, realizing a combined total of $96,729,850. The photo-booth style Self-Portrait, 1963-64 – the artist’s very first self-portrait – sold for $38,442,500 (£23,449,925/€26,909,750) after a protracted bidding competition that auctioneer Christopher Burge quipped was ―the longest lot in history‖. The price with premium surpasses the previous record of $32.5 million set for a Warhol self-portrait last year. On the same night, Self-Portrait, 1986 – from the last great self-portrait series the artist completed before his death in 1987 – sold to a bidder in the room for $27,522,500 (£16,788,725 /€19,265,750).

Self-portraits by post-war and contemporary artists fared well overall, from Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Self-Portrait, 1974, which fetched $25,282,500 (£15,422,325/€17,697,750), to Cindy Sherman’s Untitled, 1981 – which established not only a new world auction record for the artist, but also set a new world auction record for any photograph at $3,890,500 (£2,373,205/€ 2,723,350).

Re-discovered works also inspired collectors this season, and Christie’s unveiled several significant paintings that had been hidden from view in private collections for decades. Leading the group is Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger, version L, one of the largest works within the artist’s groundbreaking series of 15 paintings created in 1955 in homage to the masterpiece of the same name by the 19th century master Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). Originally owned by the legendary New York collectors Victor and Sally Ganz, the grisaille-toned painting of a single female figure was offered from a private American collection and had not been seen in public in more than 50 years. It fetched $21,362,500 (£12,817,500/ €14,312,875).

In the Post-War & Contemporary sales, Mark Rothko’s Untitled No. 17, a rare discovery and heralded addition to the great Rothko canon, realized $33,682,500 (£20,546,325/€23,577,750) while Roy Lichtenstein’s drawing Study for Kiss V, a study for one of Lichtenstein’s most famous paintings fetched $2,098,500 (£1,280,085/ € 1,468,950). This magnificent work was acquired for a mere $10 in 1965 at a New York City Happening, and had been owned by the same collector since.

In addition to the new world auction records mentioned above, world records were established for the following artists, including:

• Maurice de Vlaminck - $22,482,500 for Paysage de Banlieue, 1905
• Cy Twombly - $15,202,500 for Untitled, 1967.
• Richard Diebenkorn - $7,698,500 for Ocean Park #121, 1980.
• Urs Fischer- $6,802,500 for Untitled (Lamp/Bear), 2005-2006
• Maximilien Luce - $4,226,500 for Notre-Dame de Paris, 1900
• Robert Indiana - $4,114,500 for Love Red/Blue, 1990.
• Anselm Kiefer - $3,554,500 for Laßt tausend Blumen blühen!, 1999
• Marc Quinn - $1,202,500 for Myth Venus, 2006
• George Condo - $1,052,500 for The Ballerina, 2002
• Henri Lebasque, $1,022,500 for Le goûter sur la terrasse à Sainte-Maxime, 1914
• Jean Helion, $782,500 for Sans titre, 1935
• Alexander Calder - $602,500 for Necklace, 1939

*World Auction Record for Calder Jewelry

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