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Auerbach and School of London artists triumph at Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary sale
Reclining Model, Back View by Frank Auerbach. Achieved £872,750 against an estimate of £120,000 - 180,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A charcoal, crayon and pencil work on paper by Frank Auerbach from 1960 sold for £872,750 after a tense six-way telephone battle lasting 15 minutes at Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in London today [Wednesday 7 March]. It had been estimated at £120,000-180,000. It was just one of the works by the School of London artists that performed strongly in the 44-lot sale that achieved a total of more than £5,285,750.

Prominent among the other School of London works were:

• Nude on a Red Bed No 3 by Leon Kossoff, 1938, which achieved £536,750 estimated at £300,000-500,000. This work was originally in the artist’s personal collection. He then gave it to his sister Ashley Kossoff, from whom it passed to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo. Since 2003 it has been in private hands.

• Auerbach’s Reclining Head of E.O.W II from 1969 which made £368,750 against an estimate of £280,000 - 350,000. This work was once in the collection of Lucian Freud who bought it in 1971. He was a great supporter of Auerbach and owned more than 40 of his friend’s paintings. Writing of this work in the spring edition of Bonhams Magazine, the art historian Alistair Hicks, author of The School of London, said,” Few images are as intense as this small painting by Auerbach. It was not his last painting of EOW. Yet it reads in retrospect like the mourning of a great love lost.”

Bonhams Global Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor, said, “I am delighted, but not surprised, at the outstanding results for these wonderful paintings. There has been a great surge in interest from collectors round the world in works by Auerbach and Kossoff, the two artists we associate most closely with the School of London, and the selection we were able to offer was fresh to the market and had impeccable provenance.”

Works by female artists also performed notably well.

This section, which included works by artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Bridget Riley, Germaine Richier, Sue Williams and Marisa Merz, was 100% sold.

Yayoi Kusama’s No A.A., from the collection of ICA co-founder Sir Herbert Read, and offered for the first time at auction in Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary sale achieved £608,750 having been estimated at £250,000-350,000.

Ralph Taylor, Global Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art said: ‘Yayoi Kusama is arguably the most important living female artist in the world and this mesmerising painting was executed during Kusama’s first year in the West. The impeccable provenance and the fact that this was the first time it had ever been offered for sale, made it highly attractive to collectors and accounted for the intense bidding and the memorable price.”

Girl with Balloon – a stencil spray paint on canvas work by Banksy from 2003 – sold for £344,750 against an estimate of £150,000-200,000.

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