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Major Artists Reach New Heights with Eight World Auction Records Established
Andy Warhol, Double Marlon (detail) silkscreen ink on unprimed linen 84 x 95 3Ž4 in. (213.4 x 243.2 cm.) Painted in 1966. Christie's Images Ltd. 2008.

NEW YORK.- Christie’s highly anticipated Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale totaled $348,263,600, marking the second highest total ever in auction history for the category. Eight new world auction records were established for artists including Richard Prince, Sam Francis, Leon Gottlieb, with Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping setting a world auction record for any living artist. The sale was 95% sold by value and 95% sold by lot.

“Tonight’s sale realized nearly $350 million, the second highest total ever for the category, and the appetite for works of art continues unabated as buyers from around the world actively participated. A broad group of artists including Francis, Freud, Gottlieb, and Prince rose to new heights,” said Marc Porter, President of Christie’s Americas. “The specialists in charge of tonight’s sale ensured that the auction was specifically edited and carefully estimated to successfully meet the market accurately.”

The collection of three Abstract Expressionist works of art brought record prices for Francis’s Black, 1955 (estimate: $4-6 million), which achieved $5,193,000 and Gottlieb’s Cool Blast, 1960 (estimate: $2-3 million), which totaled $6,537,000. The glorious red and yellow No. 15 by Rothko’s 1952 (estimate on request) commanded $50,441,000, the second highest total for a work by the artist.

Two of the most important British artists were represented by deeply intimate and stunning interpretations of the human subject: Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995, and Francis Bacon’s Study for Self Portrait, 1976. The most significant work by Freud to appear at auction, the life-size Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, (estimate: $25-35 million) fetched $33,641,000, eclipsing the previous Freud record set by Christie’s last season for Ib and Her Husband (sold on November 13, 2007 for $19,361,000). Bacon’s Three Studies for Self-Portrait, 1976, is among the finest of an outstanding series of self-portraits that the artist executed and it achieved $28,041,000 (estimate: $25-35 million).

Striking, sexy, and effortlessly cool, Andy Warhol’s Double Marlon, 1966 (estimate on request) sold for $32,521,000. Taken from a still of Brando’s controversial film, The Wild One, the work exemplifies Warhol’s obsession with celebrity and Hollywood. All the other works by Warhol in the sale performed well with the Last Supper (estimate: $6-9 million) achieving $8,777,000 and Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot) (estimate: $6-8 million) selling for $7,097,000, demonstrating Warhol’s lasting influence on the market.

The catalogue’s cover lot, Jeff Koons’s New Hoover Convertibles, New Shelton Wet/Drys 5-Gallon, Double Decker (estimate on request), achieved $11,801,000. Conceived and executed from 1981 to 1986, the work forms part of the celebrated series known as "The New.”

Further sale highlights tonight included Clyfford Still’s, 1946 (PH-182) (estimate: $8-12 million), which totaled $14,041,000, and a spectacular Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard Richter, which achieved $14,601,000, the second highest total for a work by the artist. Tom Wesselmann’s, Smoker #9, 1973 (estimate: $4-6 million) totaled $6,761,000 - a world auction record for the artist.

Additional world auction records were established for Prince’s Man Crazy Nurse #2 (estimate: $6-8 million), which sold for $7,433,000 Barnett Newman’s Untitled, which achieved $5,193,000 and Indiana’s USA 666, The 6th American Dream, which totaled $1,833,000.

The night’s proceedings also included the Christie’s Realty International, Inc. sale of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House. Along with Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House, Neutra’s Kaufmann House is one of the most important examples of modernist residential architecture in the Americas and remains singular as the most important example of mid-century modernist architecture in the Americas to remain in private hands. It sold for $16,841,000 – and the buyer exercised an option to buy the orchard, taking the total for the house to $19,025,000.

The sales will continue tomorrow with the Morning and Afternoon Sessions of Post-War and Contemporary Art.

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