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Sotheby's Contemporary Art Sale in Paris achieves $53.5 million; Up 43% on the same series in June 2017
Kazuo Shiraga's Takao sold for €8.7 million ($10.3m). Made five times its estimate. More than twice the previous world auction record set at Sotheby's Paris in 2014. The most valuable work sold in France this year. Courtesy Sotheby's.

PARIS.- With €45.5 million ($53.5m), the Contemporary Art Department has kicked off the 2018 season with extraordinary results, achieving the highest total in its history in France. During these two days, the sale proceeds increase by 43% on the same series in June 2017*, with two world auction records, ten works sold over one million euro, and participants from 50 countries.

Bidding was competitive for historical works by Kazuo Shiraga, Zao Wou-Ki, Simon Hantaï, Nicolas de Staël, Jean Dubuffet and Pierre Soulages. Making their auction debut, they were all acquired at the time they were created, and have remained in the same private collections until now.

This 24-hour sale was led by Kazuo Shiraga’s monumental work. Sotheby's was presenting a truly exceptional painting by the artist in terms of its impressive size and creation date. Takao, 1959 was competed by eleven bidders from nine countries all the way up to €8.7 million, smashing his previous world record, obtained at Sotheby’s in Paris in 2014.*

The second highest price, €4.1 million ($4.8 million), went to a painting by Zao Wou-ki, 21.03.69. This composition exploring movement in a highly subtle palette largely was sold over its high estimate of €3.2 million (estimate: €2,200,000-3,200,000).

The highly sought-after Portrait d’Homme Façon Carton-Pâte, painted by Jean Dubuffet in 1946, garnered a splendid €3 million ($3.6 million) against an estimate of €1.25-1.8 million. Here the artist takes us into the realm of the poetic and the mystical, abandoning all traditional techniques in favour of poor materials.

The success of the Evening sale was consolidated by the next day's results, which culminated in the world auction record achieved for Mark Tobey with Autumnal Fire, 1965. This fetched €1.4 million ($1.6 million), i.e. seven times its estimate, crushing its previous record set in London in 2011.

Key figures:

Evening sale:

Total: €37,840,850 ($44,486,460)
9 lots sold over €1m
90.7% sold by lot

World auction record for an artist:
Kazuo Shiraga, Takao, 1959 – €8,731,850 ($10,264,460)

Day sale:
Total: €7,661,000 ($9,076,676)
79% sold by lot

World auction record for an artist:
Mark Tobey, Autumnal Fire, 1965 – €1,389,000 ($1,645,673)

* Total for Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Paris, 6 - 7 June 2017: €31.8m
* Kazuo Shiraga, Gekidou Suru Aka, 1969, Sotheby’s Paris, 3 June 2014 - €3.9m

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