sale of selected works from the distinguished Neuberger Berman and Lehman Brothers Corporate Art Collections brought a total of $12,277,751 today, reaching the high estimate ($8/12 million). Seventeen auction records were set for artists including Julie Mehretu and Glenn Ligon, and the sale was 83% sold by lot with more than half of those works bringing prices above their high estimates.
This collection was put together with great care and foresight, said Tobias Meyer, Sothebys Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art and lead auctioneer at todays sale. They were very well informed and bought from artists often at the early stages of their careers, before they had broken out and whom they recognized would have enough talent to ensure long term reputations. Mr. Meyer continued: While the Lehman name certainly attracted a great deal of attention, the people who bid today participated because they knew it was good art.
Kimberly Macleod, spokesperson for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. commented: We are delighted that Sothebys delivered the value we sought on behalf of the creditors and that the result was at the top of the pre-sale estimate.
We were very pleased with the depth of bidding for the many categories featured in this collection, said Gabriela Palmieri, Senior Specialist in Sothebys Contemporary Art Department. The strong demand for Pop, Abstraction, Minimalism, Photography and Conceptual works reflects the strength of the collection and the health of the market. The number of new auction records established today was particularly exciting - recognition of rising stars and sought-after artists is wonderful validation of Neuberger Bermans collection. Participation in todays sale came from an international community of bidders, including several successful online purchasers.
The top price in the sale was achieved for Julie Mehretus, Untitled 1, an iconic painting from the Ethiopian artist's intricate and energetic oeuvre, which comfortably exceeded the high estimate in selling for $1,022,500, a new record for the artist at auction (est. $600/800,000). The striking and colorful Untitled (Three Tier Perspective) by Mark Grotjahn that appeared on the catalogue cover fetched $782,500, among the highest prices achieved by the artists works at auction (est. $600/800,000).
Three works by Gerhard Richter were also major highlights, with each selling well above its high estimate. Abstraktes Bild (763-9) from 1992 sold for $506,500 (est. $300/400,000) with a similar painting from the same year, Abstraktes Bild (763-5) fetching the same price - more than double the low estimate (est. $200/300,000). Betty, a Richter lithograph from 1991, fetched $458,500 - three times the high estimate and a record for a photographic work by the artist at auction (est. $100/150,000).
A further highlight was Glenn Ligons Invisible Man (Two Views), a 1992 work by the American artist which sold for $434,500 after a prolonged bidding contest - over four times the low estimate and new a record for the artist at auction (est. $100/150,000).
Among the bidders in todays sale were a number of institutions including the Museum Art Center Buenos Aires (MACBA) that purchased three lots -- Callum Inness Exposed Painting Charcoal Black, Gold Green from 2000 doubled the low estimate to sell for $45,000, a new record for the artist at auction (est. $20/30,000), Psyce, a 1998 painting by Karen Davie also doubled the low estimate to sell for $74,500 (est. $30/40,000) and Robert Longos Untitled (November 2), a 2003 ink and charcoal depiction of a rose sold for $92,500 (est. $80/120,000).